Friday Jun, 05 2020 03:31:15 AM

Villagers displaced by `rido' in Pikit municipality

Mindanao Armed Conflict • 14:30 PM Mon May 11, 2020
John M. Unson
Residents flee with their work animals Sunday as warring clans traded bullets in remote villages of Pikit, North Cotabato. (Photo courtesy of Sam Mundas)

COTABATO CITY --- Hundreds of families were displaced by gunfights over the weekend between feudal groups in Pikit, North Cotabato while other rival factions figured in deadly showdowns in towns nearby. 

The clashes in Barangays Balungis and Balatican in Pikit, located in the first district of North Cotabato, involved two heavily armed clans, one identified with the Moro National Liberation Front, the other led by a commander in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. 

Faried Solaiman Adas, an Islamic theologian speaking for MNLF  founder Nur Misuari, said Monday a number of their companions were killed when a group from the MILF attacked their enclaves in Barangays Balungis and Balatican. 

“We lost members in that incident. That is what I can confirm for now,” Adas told reporters on Monday morning. 

Pikit, a predominantly Moro town, is a common bastion of both fronts. 

Senior police and Army officials in North Cotabato announced Monday the displacement of no fewer than 600 Moro families due to the hostilities. 

Monday's radio reports stated that besides the hostilities in Balungis and Balatican, exchanges of automatic gunfire were also heard in Barangays Takepan, Talitay and Bulol in the same town. 

The incident was preceded by bloody encounters between heavily armed Moro groups in Barangays Kilada and Marbel in nearby Matalam, North Cotabato that traditional leaders are now trying to resolve amicably. 

The hostilities in Matalam erupted when gunmen identified with the MILF killed in an ambush Norodin Solaiman Ambel, a senior MNLF leader in Barangay Kilada. 

Relatives of Ambel raided the enclaves of their adversaries next day, sparking a series of clashes that sent more than a thousand villagers running for their lives. 

The police said sporadic clashes between enemy groups also rocked remote barangays in the second district of Maguindanao province just as rival clans fought in Pikit last weekend

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