Soldier dies, pal hurt in grenade attack in NoCot

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/30 Dec) – An Army soldier belonging to the 7th Infantry Battalion was killed and another was seriously injured after they were attacked by unidentified motorcycle-riding men while manning the checkpoint along the highway in Kabacan, North Cotabato, around 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

Authorities identified the slain soldier as Cpl. Rey Osoteo and the injured as Pfc. Dionisio Malik, both assigned at an Army outpost in Barangay Osias in Kabacan.

Lt. Col. Domingo Gubuay, 7IB commander, said his men were manning the checkpoint along the Kabacan-Pikit highway when the suspects tossed the grenade and fired shots towards the soldiers.

Osoteo died on the spot while Malik was rushed to the nearby Kidapawan Medical Specialist Hospital for treatment.

Gubuay hinted that the group behind the grenade blast was a lawless gang operating in Kabacan and neighboring areas in North Cotabato.

“They knew, from the start, that the outposts we built along the highway had hampered their illegal activities. So to demobilize our teams, they attacked our men manning the routes, which could be their entry or exit points,” he said.

The Army has started putting up road blocks and outposts along the Kabacan-Pikit highway since October after the bloody bus blast in Matalam town that killed 11 passengers and wounded several others.

The attack at the Army outpost in Barangay Osias was the second attack in Kabacan since last week.

On Dec. 24, a bag containing an improvised explosive device fashioned from an 81-mm mortar was discovered by a utility worker at a bus terminal in Poblacion, Kabacan. The bomb, according to Supt. Joseph Semillano, Kabacan police director, “was aimed at creating chaos while many were busy preparing for the long holiday break.”

The Al Khobar group was believed to be behind the attacks, reports said. (Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)