Armed men burn 4 houses, truck in Tantangan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 January) – Unidentified armed men stormed a remote village in Tantangan town in South Cotabato around midnight Thursday and burned at least four houses and a hauling truck in the area.

Tantangan Mayor Arnold Garingo said the heavily armed attackers went around the central portion of Sitio Tanting in Barangay Poblacion shortly before midnight and fired several shots on some houses before setting four of them on fire.

He said the attackers, some of whom were reportedly wearing bonnets, hastily left the area after burning the four houses.

Garingo said no casualties and evacuations were reported as a result of the attack but cited that it further heightened the already volatile peace and order situation in the area.

“We’re still trying to determine the identity of the suspects and the motive of the attack. We’ve requested the deployment of policemen and Army personnel to secure the area,” the mayor said.

Inset map courtesy of Wikipedia.Sitio Tanting chair Danny Tanting told reporters they were initially awakened at around midnight Thursday by bursts of gunfire from an estimated 10 heavily armed men that came to their village.

He said they immediately left their houses and sought refuge at another portion of the village while the raiders, who were armed with M14 and M16 Armalite rifles, harassed local villagers by indiscriminately firing at several houses.

Before leaving the scene, he said, the armed men torched his house and three other nearby homes as well as his parked Isuzu Elf truck.

Tanting said his truck, house and two other structures were burned to the ground while another house was partially destroyed.

The village official said they failed to identify any of the attackers but hinted that the incident could be connected to several violent incidents in the area since last month.

Last Dec. 15, he said unidentified armed men gunned down two local residents, one of whom was his nephew.

Last week, Tanting said several armed men aboard a truck came to their village and opened fire at several homes.

Garingo said he has scheduled a meeting Friday with local leaders of Sitio Tanting as well as members of the town’s peace and order council to determine the possible cause of the attacks and map out possible solutions.

He said they will also implement some security measures to ensure the safety of local residents and avert any similar attack in the coming days.

The mayor said he has directed the municipal social welfare and development office to provide some assistance to the family of Sitio chair Tanting and other families who were affected by the attack. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)