TALITAY, Maguindanao (MindaNews/15 May) – Elections are over and life is supposed to return to normal but not in this town of about 14,000 Moro inhabitants, many of whom have fled to safer grounds after a long standing “rido” (clan feud) was rekindled due to politics.
At least four persons have been reported dead.
Involved in the clan feud are the Sabal and Buisan families both of whom have relatives and supporters in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
The town center has become a virtual ghost town after residents fled to safer grounds due to clashes between armed followers of Buisan and Sabal families on Saturday afternoon.
“Killings started a day before election and vengeance counter attacks followed,” Senior Inspector Freddie Solar, police chief of Talitay said.
“The residents knew it was going to be big hostilities since both have armed followers affiliated with Moro fronts,” Solar said, adding that both sides have been massing its forces around the town center.
Sporadic skirmishes started on May 8 when 25-year old Bayan Buisan of the Buisan clan was killed.
An ambush occurred Friday in the downtown area along the highway where two members of the Sabal clan were killed: Guiner Usman, 35 and Walad Talib, 27.
Fighting continued until Saturday, leaving one fighter dead from Sabal side. He was identified as Sampatu Upam, 45.
“The situation is deteriorating, tension is high so we urged the people, especially the children to move to safer grounds,” Solar said.
Residents who are relatives of the warring clans have moved to nearby Datu Anggal town.
Police said the Buisan and Sabal families have been locked in a long-standing family feud.
Solar said involved in last night’s skirmishes were relatives of incumbent Mayor Montasir Sabal while the other group was composed of relatives of defeated mayoralty candidate.
Solar said the Muslim Council of Elders and representatives from the MILF have been mediating for the declaration of a ceasefire. (Ferdinand B. Cabrera / MindaNews)