Soldier slain, 2 others hurt in Maguindanao del Sur gun attack
DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao del Norte — A soldier was killed while his companion was injured when shot by gunmen on board a mini-van in Mamasapano, Maguindanao del Sur on Wednesday morning.
Brig. Gen. Oriel Pangcog, commander of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade, said the victims were manning a checkpoint in Barangay Libutan, Mamasapano town and implementing security operations when attacked at about 9 a.m.
He identified the slain soldier as Private First Class (PFC) Jorey Abibas of Libungan town, Cotabato province, while the injured one as PFC Jonathan Nacion of Pigcawayan town, Cotabato province.
Nacion is now recuperating at an Army hospital.
A civilian, identified by police as Asidza Bayao, was hit by stray bullets and also rushed to the hospital.
The infantrymen both belonged to the Army’s 23rd Mechanized Company of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion.
“It was a terroristic attack. Our soldiers were manning a checkpoint (when) the suspects on board a heavily tinted minivan slowed down while passing by the checkpoint but suddenly pulled their rifles and fired at our troops,” Pangcog said in a radio interview.
Saying the attackers were believed to belong to the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Pangcog said the attack “could be in retaliation to the death of BIFF’s “Commander Jacket.”
A leader of a local terrorist group under the BIFF’s Kagi Karialan faction, Abdulkarem Lumbatan Hasim alias Commander Jacket, was killed with his companion Mahmod Lumbatan during a government law enforcement operation at a bus terminal in Tacurong City last February 18.
Police Colonel Roel Sermese, Maguindanao police director, corroborated Pangcog’s statement that the BIFF was behind the mid-day attack.
Citing a police investigation report, Sermese said the attackers were led by Tong Aban Amang, a BIFF sub-leader under Commander Jacket.
A joint police and military operations are going on.
Mamasapano is one of the five adjoining municipalities where the BIFF actively operates, targeting police and military installations in the past three years.