Tuesday Mar, 05 2024 06:40:08 PM

5 killed in armed clashes in Pikit, North Cotabato

Mindanao Armed Conflict • 11:00 AM Sun Dec 24, 2023
Edwin O. Fernandez

PIKIT, North Cotabato  – Five gunmen, including a village councilman, who were followers of a village chair and field commander of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were killed in clashes that erupted Saturday afternoon, police here said.

Major Arvin John Cambang, Pikit municipal police chief, said the fighting between Chairman Sindatok Karim of Barangay Lagunde, and Basit Nando, alias Commander Abu Sabaya, head of MILF 118th base command, erupted at about 3 p.m. in Sitio Edzap, Barangay Lagunde, Pikit, North Cotabato.

Barangay Lagunde is one of the 63 villages now under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Cambang identified the fatalities under the group of Chairman Karim as village councilman Malik Karim, Sammy Nawal Salik, a Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) member.

At the same time, those injured were BPAT members Saddam Salaban, 33, and Karnain Esmael, 33, both residents of Barangay Lagunde. Killed on the side of Commander Abu Sabaya were Kena Abdillah, 35 Omar Abdillah, 38, and an unidentified person.

Elements of the 90th Infantry Battalion backed the Pikit PNP in disengaging the warring armed groups and the recovery of the fatalities.

“They are locked in long-standing ‘rido’ or family feud over a territorial misunderstanding,” Cambang said in the vernacular.

Cambang said the group of Chairman Karim claimed that they were working on a barangay road project when the group of Commander Abu Sabaya arrived and opened fire, triggering a firefight that lasted for about an hour.

Cambang quoted Abu Sabaya as telling police probers that the group of Chairman Karim entered his area of operation without coordination.

But Cambang said Abu Sabaya has a grudge against Chairman Karim because he suspected that the village officials’ followers were behind the murder in November of his two relatives.

Soldiers from the 90th IB and personnel from Police Mobile Force Battalion 14 are now in the area to serve as peacekeepers and prevent the escalation of hostilities. Several families have fled to nearby villages.

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