COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/21 Dec) ¬- A teenage boy from Pikit, North Cotabato suffered multiple shrapnel wounds Monday afternoon after he accidentally hit a concealed “unexploded ordnance” that eventually exploded while he was cleaning the family’s farm.
Unexploded ordnance, or UXO, are explosive devices employed in war but did not explode at the time these were used, and thus still pose danger to unsuspecting civilians.
The victim was identified as Muslimen Naga, a 16-year-old Maguindanaon. A relative who refused to give his name, who served as the victim’s guardian at the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center, told MindaNews the boy was alone doing farm work in the blistering mid-afternoon sun.
“His uncle heard an explosion, who then rushed to the scene to check. There they saw Muslimen lying in the ground full of blood. They then rushed him to a hospital in Pikit,” the guardian said in the Maguindanao vernacular.
The family farm is situated in Buliok in Pikit, site of intense battles between government soldiers and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in 2003.
The boy’s guardian believes the bomb could be part of the explosives used in the war in Buliok, where the MILF once set up its camp.
Thousands of mortar and artillery rounds were exchanged between the military and the MILF during the Buliok War in 2003, and some more when fighting erupted anew in August 2008. Though both sides agreed to get rid of unexploded ordnance and landmines for the safety of civilians, a large number are still posing threats to residents until this time.
But Pikit police denied reports of any explosion in the town on Monday.
“I talked to the village chieftain of Barangay Buliok, Alphata Husain, and he said there was no explosion in their area that hit a young man,” said Senior Insp. Elias Dandan, the town’s police chief. “But yes, it is confirmed there is a wounded 16-year-old boy rushed to a local clinic here,” he added.
Police found out, however, that the name of the wounded boy admitted at the CRMC is Guaimelon Morales Rakim, from the village of Damawao in Datu Piang, Maguindanao. (Ferdie Cabrera / MindaNews)