Marawi mayor, driver survive ambush

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 09 March) — Marawi City Mayor Fahad “Pre” Salic and his driver survived an ambush by unidentified gunmen as they were driving from the Pryce Plaza Hotel here early Saturday dawn.

Police said Salic, Lanao del Sur gubernatorial candidate of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), suffered three gunshot wounds in his buttock and shoulder while his driver had a mouth injury.

“It is all slight wounds. Mayor Salic was able to talk to police investigators, “ Police investigator Leonilo Laquio of the Carmen police station said.

Laquio said Salic and his unidentified driver are recuperating at the Polymedic Medical Plaza in Barangay Kauswagan, this city, where he was brought after  the incident.

He said their initial investigation will focus on election-related violence or clan war or rido as the motive of the ambush.

Laquio said they would also investigate why it took the back up security escorts of Salic some two minutes to come to his aid.

Larry Rosuello, security guard at the Pryce Plaza Hotel told the police Salic and his driver were on board a red Ford Ranger pickup as they came out of the hotel at about 1:55 a.m. Saturday.

Rosuello said Salic’s vehicle was without his usual convoy of bodyguards.

AMBUSH. Police investigators check for evidence at the site where Marawi City Mayor Fahad “Pre” Salic was ambushed in Cagayan de Oro on Saturday morning, April 9, 2016.  Salic and his driver who were on board the Red Ford Ranger were wounded. Mindanews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO
AMBUSH. Police investigators check for evidence at the site where Marawi City Mayor Fahad “Pre” Salic was ambushed in Cagayan de Oro on Saturday morning, April 9, 2016. Salic and his driver who were on board the Red Ford Ranger were wounded. Mindanews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

“The pick-up slowed down as it neared the highway when I spotted a white Hi-Ace van blocking its way. The van’s windows opened and several gunmen fired at the red pick-up,” Rosuello later narrated to reporters.

Rosuello said he ducked inside the guard house for cover at the same time peeking outside to see what was happening.

He said moments later, Salic and his driver were running to the guardhouse, their clothes bloodied.

“I covered the Mayor and the body guard with my gun and we climbed back to the hotel for safety,” Rozuello said.

Rosuello said the bodyguards of Salic met them midway and brought the mayor to the hospital.

By then, Rosuello said the suspects had already left the crime scene.

Dr. Christian Caballes, chief medico legal officer of the PNP Scene of the Crime Unit here said they found 31 empty shells of 5.56 and 7.62 ammunition from the ambush site.

Caballes said they also found an STI caliber .40 pistol with three magazines, and two mobile phones inside the red Ford Ranger owned by Salic.

He said the mobile phones will be examined by the PNP Cyber Crime Unit in Camp Alagar to see if Mayor Salic had been received threatening text messages.

“Based on the empty shells, we presumed the firearms used by the gunmen were M16 and AK 47 rifles. We did not find any evidence that Mayor Saic was able to fire back at his attackers.” Caballes said.

CRIME SCENE. A police investigator lists down items found at the scene of the ambush of Marawi City Mayor Fahad “Pre” Salic at Pryce Plaza Hotel in Cagayan de Oro on Saturday April 9, 2016. Salic and his driver who were on board a red Ford Ranger were wounded. Mindanews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO
CRIME SCENE. A police investigator lists down items found at the scene of the ambush of Marawi City Mayor Fahad “Pre” Salic at Pryce Plaza Hotel in Cagayan de Oro on Saturday April 9, 2016. Salic and his driver who were on board a red Ford Ranger were wounded. Mindanews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno immediately condemned the ambush on Salic saying it was “barbaric and has no place in a decent community.”

Moreno urged the local police to immediately identify and arrest the suspects.

He is also urging residents of Cagayan de Oro who have knowledge of the incident to come forward and help police authorities.

There are six candidates running for governor of Lanao del Sur, according to records of the Commission on Elections: Salic; Independent candidates Ahmadjan Abdulcarim, Pangalian Balindong and Jahl Lucman, Abdulfatah Sarip, and LP’s Pangalian Balindong.  (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)