ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/6 Apr) – An Army major and his wife, along with a militiaman acting as bus marshal, were killed when four gunmen robbed a passenger bus along the highway in Zamboanga Sibugay province Tuesday evening, military reports said.
Maj. Julsitidi Arasid, of the 18th Infantry Battalion based in the capital town of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay, was on vacation and travelling to their home in Barangay Lower Calarian of this city with his wife Aliya and son when the armed men attacked the Rural Transit bus, according to Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) spokesman.
The still unidentified gunmen reportedly set the bus ablaze before they left, leaving the bodies of the Arasid couple and militiaman Lito dela Cruz inside the burning vehicle.
Cabangbang said the gunmen first shot Dela Cruz, then the Arasid couple, who were seated at the back portion of the bus. The Arasids’ son was reportedly able to jump off the window and escaped unharmed.
Federico Luchavez, another member of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) who acted as Dela Cruz’s buddy as bus marshals, attempted to fire back at the armed men but the latter were quicker on the draw, seriously wounding the militiaman.
Cabangbang said the bus with body number 9342 driven by Crispin Lozada was bound for Zamboanga City coming from Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur. The four passengers reportedly boarded the bus at the terminal in Roseller T. Lim municipality, Zamboanga Sibugay.
One town later, around 8:30 p.m., one of the armed men shot and killed Dela Cruz as the bus was negotiating the highway in Barangay Upper Tungawan of the municipality of Tungawan. The militiamen were reportedly wearing uniforms but the major was not.
Cabangbang said the gunmen took the cash and valuables of all the passengers, who were later ordered to get off the bus. They were brought to Zamboanga City by another Rural Transit bus that happened to pass by.
Cabangbang said troops have been deployed to track down the gunmen.
Rural Transit maintains a fleet of buses plying most of Mindanao, including the whole Zamboanga Peninsula. (MindaNews)