COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro government leadership has strongly condemned a reported mortar shelling that killed two Muslim minors and wounded 14 other civilians in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao on Eid’l Fitr day.
A statement from the Bangsamoro government’s Bureau of Public Information (BPI) named the fatalities as Aslamiya and Asnaida, both female and surnamed Tambak, aged 10 and seven years old, respectively.
The regional officialdom “condemns in the strongest term the mortar shelling that happened yesterday (May 24, 2020) in Barangay Kitango, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao which resulted in the tragic death of two minor siblings and the wounding of (14) others, including the mother of the slain children,” the BPI statement said Monday.
“This violence committed against hapless civilians is totally inhumane and evil, occurring…on what was supposed to be a festive day of Eid’l Fitr. It also compounded the present difficulties of our people as they struggle through with the COVID-19 pandemic. Only the heartless criminals can commit such a wicked act,” the statement added.
Earlier on Monday, Regional Executive Secretary Abdulraof Macacua disclosed first the incident in a Facebook post, purported to elicit further information that may lead to in-depth investigation and justice to the victims.
“We call on the law enforcement agencies in Maguindanao, especially the Police Provincial Office and the 6th Infantry Division (Kampilan) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to conduct an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation of this tragedy and bring to the bar of justice those responsible,” the BPI said.
In a solicited reaction, Maj. Arvin John Encinas averred: “We have no operating troops in the area when the incident happened as we respect the Holy Ramadan.”
Encinas alluded to an “existing rido” at Barangay Kitango in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town as a possible cause of the incident.
“There is an existing RIDO in the area w wherein there were reported casualties. The ISIS-inspired terrorist leaders were sighted in the place of incident and were likewise reported laying IEDs as their perimeter defense (that went off on the fateful day). We are conducting investigations together with the PNP and other neutral entities,” he said.
But two video footages uploaded by a female concerned person showed some trajectory directions of the explosion that ripped through the roofs of damaged residential houses, indicating that the blast impact was aerial – not from the ground.
The BARMM government also urged the Commission on Human Rights to conduct its own probe of the incident, stressing that suspects in the attacks must be held responsible regardless of their affiliation in state or Moro armed organizations.
The gruesome crime must not pass without punishment, the BPI statement said. (Ali G. Macabalang)