Teachers, students trapped, not hostaged-A A +A
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
PUBLIC school teachers and students reported to have been held hostage by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Midsayap, North Cotabato were just trapped, a police chief clarified.
Midsayap Municipal Police Station (MMPS) head Renante delos Santos, in a phone interview, said at least 15 teachers and an unknown number of students were trapped inside the Malingaw Elementary School when the battle started around 7 a.m.
"Linawin ko lang din -- the teachers and students in Malingaw Elementary School were not held hostage. They were only trapped. Hindi na raw sila nakalabas pagdating ng members of BIFF sa takot na baka matamaan sila ng putok ng baril," delos Santos said.
As of 1 p.m. Monday, Delos Santos said the authorities still heard some gun fires but the teachers and the students inside the school had already gone home safe. He added that this was also confirmed by the village chief.
But in a text message to Sun.Star Davao from a source who refused to be identified for lack of authority to speak, said the BIFF rebels led by a certain Commander DM and Abas Kudanding confiscated the personal belongings of the teachers and students.
At least 150 armed men attacked Barangay Bual Norte, Barangay Malingaw, and Barangay Palunoguen in Midsayap town.
Colonel Dickson P. Hermoso, spokesperson for the Philippine Army's 6th Infantry Division, on the other hand, said one soldier was killed, while two others were wounded in the attack.
Hermoso said the residents have already evacuated to safer ground, while classes have been suspended.
Delos Santos added that the authorities in North Cotabato already placed the province under full alert status, following the order of Governor Emmylou Talino–Mendoza in line with the incident.
Abu Misry Mama, BIFF spokesperson, in an interview at DXRA Radyo ni Juan, claimed responsibility for the attack. He added that the BIFF had already warned the government and the residents about their plan to launch offensives in the area.
Mama also said there were no hostages during the encounter. He also stressed that the attack had nothing to do with the ongoing stand-off of the government troops and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga City.
The BIFF led by former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 105th Base Commander Ameril Umbra Kato broke away from the MILF and is demanding for a separate Islamic state contrary to an autonomous Bangsamoro that the MNLF is inclined to agree on.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 24, 2013.