COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/21 April) — A former town mayor, his vice mayor-son, and six other persons were wounded when a grenade exploded on their vehicle as they were about to leave a mosque compound in Talayan, Maguindanao after attending a Friday prayer.
The Social Welfare and Development Office of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) identified the victims as former Talayan mayor Datu Ali Midtimbang, his son Nathaniel who is the incumbent vice mayor of Datu Anggal Midtimbang town, and six security aides and relatives identified as Abdul Manap Manumol, Tho Karim, Datumanong Muyak, Sindatok Haron, Jimmy Makalanga and Mohaimen Midtimbang.
The victims were about to leave the mosque compound around 11:45 a.m. when two men lobbed two grenades at them.
Chief Inspector Jun Oris, Talayan police chief, told reporters that a pursuit ensued forcing them to open fire at the assailants who escaped on board a waiting getaway vehicle.
“They left their red Barako type motorcycle and fled toward Cotabato direction. The suspects joined the flock of Muslim faithfuls concealing in a yellow malong (cloth) and mixed with attendees during the Friday prayer when they plotted the attack,” Oris said.
Engineer Pascua Dawi, one of the associates of Midtimbang who survived the attack, said they were about to leave when the explosion took place.
He said one of the two grenades did not explode. “We scampered to different directions,” he added.
Former Guindulungan town mayor Datu Midpantao Midtimbang, brother of Datu Ali, condemned the attack that occurred during a day of prayer.
But he appealed for calm and discouraged speculations that it was politically motivated.
“Let’s wait for the outcome of investigation done by authorities. Let’s not spread baseless accusations and speculations,” he told reporters.
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman visited the victims in a Cotabato City hospital and arranged for the airlift of Datu Ali. He condemned the attack.
Datu Ali Midtimbang is considered the patriarch of the Midtimbang clan of Maguindanao.
He ran against incumbent Governor Esmael Mangudadatu in May 2016. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)