Cotabato vice mayor wounded in ambush

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/10 January) – Cotabato Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema, who also chairs the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), was wounded in an ambush not far from his home noon today, reports said.

He was immediately rushed to the Notre Dame Hospital to treat bullet wounds in the ear and cheek but was later declared out of danger. He was airlifted to Davao City in the afternoon and admitted at a private hospital there.

Police said Sema’s bodyguards fired upon the suspects as the latter fled on a motorcycle, hitting the gunman in the back. Suspect Zermin Abdullah, 48, later died in the hospital but his still unidentified companion managed to get away.

Police reports said Sema, with his escorts, was on his way home aboard his black Mitsubishi Montero after a session at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. But just a few meters before reaching his house at Santan St. in Poblacion 7, the suspect fired upon Sema. His escorts traded fire, but the suspect immediately boarded a waiting motorcycle and fled.

Eleven empty shells of a caliber .45 pistol were recovered from the ambush scene, police said.

Sema’s escorts ran after and fired towards the gunman and his driver. Abdullah, who was at the back, was hit and fell off the motorcycle. He was rushed to the Cotabato Regional Medical Center for his bullet wounds at his back but expired while being treated there.

Police said that when Abdullah fell, he was carrying a bag containing a Baby Armalite with a silencer. He was wearing a bulletproof vest, too.

Sema used to serve as mayor of Cotabato. In his younger years, he joined the Moro rebellion in the 1970s and became a part of the MNLF, later becoming one of its ranking leaders. He eventually rose to become chair of its central committee.

The MNLF signed a peace agreement with the Ramos administration in 1996, but the breakaway Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) continued with its armed struggle. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)