Firefight erupts in Maguindanao town; civilians flee

HUNDREDS of  civilians flee as armed skirmishes erupted between armed men loyal to the brothers of Maguindanao Governor Toto Mangudadatu., known locally as “Buaya sa Lanao” (Crocodiles of the lake) and an MILF supporters in at least five villages of Buluan, Maguindanao Sunday, February 14.

According to  the MILF official site, a member of the MILF Committee on Information, who was in the vicinity, the encounter started when a commander of the armed group named Taugan Mangudadatu, a barangay chairman of Lower Silling, raided Jun Andao, a barangay Kagawad of Tenok, on the allegation that he is shielding Hadji Omar (surname not reported), also known as “Cobra” an archrival of Mangudadatu.

The raid occurred on February 13 at around 1:00 P.M. at Poblacion, Buluan, Maguindanao.

Andao managed to escape unscathed, but a heavy fighting ensued. But at least four wounded were reported on the side of the Mangudadatu’s men.

In an interview with the resident of barangay Tenok who requested anonymity, he said that barangay Paitan, Tenok, Kalian, Daladagan of the Mangudadatu municipality, and some parts of Upper Silling in Buluan are being affected. The evacuees seek refuge to the houses of their relatives in the nearby barangays in the municipalities of Datu Paglas and Pandag.

As of press time, the firefight subsided due to the intervention of the MILF and Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu of the province of Maguindanao.

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