Probers eye politics in Sulu ambush
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—Thursday’s ambush in Sulu in which three police officers and a civilian were killed could have been politically motivated but the authorities said Friday they were not blaming any particular person at this time.
Chief Superintendent Mario Avenido, police director of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Senior Inspector Nasirudin Jailani, Omar town police chief, was in a convoy of vehicles, including that of a police team escorting newly installed Omar Mayor Firhana Mohammad, when armed men fired on them in Barangay Lahing-lahing around 3:30 p.m.
Mohammad was to hold office for the first time after the Commission on Elections voided the proclamation of Ahmad Omar and declared her the real winner of the 2010 Omar mayoral election. She was being escorted to Omar town when her convoy was ambushed.
The car bearing Jailani and the other slain police officers were at the head of the convoy, which came from Barangay Bus-bus in Jolo town, where the provincial police headquarters are located, Avenido said.
“(Mohammad) was about to hold office for the first time at the municipal hall and she requested for some escorts. Jailani may have assessed the danger at that time so he joined the team to lead the convoy,” Avenido said.
Avenido said Jailani and his men were able to fire back at the attackers and engaged them in a 15-minute battle but they were overpowered.
Jailani, he said, expired while being treated at a hospital.
Aside from Jailani, killed were Police Officer 2 Ferdinand Gumiran, Bander Majidul and civilian Masudi Abdurahim.
The wounded victims included PO1 Neptalie Roco of the Special Action Forces and civilians Sherhan Hussin, Ridzmar Julkarnain, Beri Sahibuddin and Radzmi Rajab.
Mohammad was unscathed.
Soldiers later arrived but failed to catch up with the fleeing armed men. They brought the victims to the hospital, Avenido said.
“It is sad that our men died because the incident is with political color. We lost precious lives in the name of politics,” Avenido said.
But he quickly added that the police were not directly blaming Omar for the incident as an investigation was still being conducted.
“I am not saying that the other politician is behind the ambush,” he said. However, Avenido noted that Mohammad and Omar were feuding.
“Nag-aaway itong dalawang pulitikong ito,” he said.
Avenido said the police were trying to secure witnesses’ accounts, which could help unmask the people behind the ambush.
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