MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/31 January) – A 12-year old boy and a man reported to be a member of the New People’s Army were killed and 11 villagers mostly children were injured when a weapon accidentally exploded Monday noon in a village in Kibawe town, Bukidnon.
Maj. Butch Miñoza, Kibawe police chief, told MindaNews the explosion occurred in Sitio Silahis, Barangay Sampaguita, about 20 kilometers from the town center. He said the NPA was holding a series of lectures in the village.
The boy, identified as Rolly Sabellana, died at the Kibawe Provincial Hospital, where the 11 injured victims were also brought for treatment.
A police progress report released Tuesday afternoon identified the injured victims as Barceliza Sabellana, 41; Robert Dumanguit, 11; Bernie Teric, 10; Jakerey Antivo, 12; Rogelio Buhawe Jr, 9, all residents of Sampaguita.
Also injured were residents from Pinamula village in Kibawe identified as Sonnyboy Matunhay, 12; Julieben Matunhay, 19; Samson Matunhay, 16; Emmanuel Matunhay, 9; Aldie Capanay, 18, and Daniel Meras, 36 from Cagawasan village. They were reportedly drying corn in a solar dryer nearby.
Four of those injured were in serious condition, Mayor Minerva Casinabe said via telephone.
Miñoza could not identify the slain alleged rebel who was reported to have held the weapon that exploded.
The police official said that according to their initial report the weapon that exploded was an M203 grenade launcher but that a follow-up investigation showed it was an improvised explosive device allegedly used for demonstration in the lectures. He said the explosion occurred in the middle of a lecture.
But Casinabe denied to MindaNews Tuesday that a lecture was held in the village. She said the rebels were just passing by the village.
A source in Sampaguita who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal said via telephone that the NPA was holding lectures in the village since Saturday.
The source refused to provide details about the lectures except to say that the rebels initially held them in the elementary school but moved to the chapel on Monday because of the classes.
But the source said the explosion occurred in the house of the Sabellanas, which sits next to the solar dryer. The source said lunch was hosted by villagers who were forced by circumstances to accommodate the NPA.
Casinabe stressed that no lecture was held. She quoted Sampaguita Barangay Chair Marcelo Sible as having said around 50 armed members of the NPA were just resting for lunch in the area.
The slain rebel, she added, tried to replace the M203 grenade, which fell to the ground and accidentally exploded. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)