200 Lumad families flee as Army bombards rebel lairs in NorthCot

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 5 Dec) – At least 15 mortars landed in four villages in Magpet town in North Cotabato in a bombardment operation staged by the military since Tuesday, reports from a tribal organization said.

The Manuvu Aromanen Pasakaday Association (MAPA) in Magpet said the mortars fired by elements of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion landed in Barangays Bagumbayan, Noa, Amabel, and Bantac, mostly Lumad-dominated villages located in the hinterlands.

No one, however, was hit by the shelling, according to Myrna Iyong, secretary-general of MAPA.

The bombardment, which started around 2 p.m. Tuesday and lasted until 11:30 a.m. the next day, displaced some 200 families from the affected Barangays, she said.

“Our people in Magpet want to live in peace. We want to be spared from the fighting,” said Iyong.

Iyong and her group condemned the intensified military operations the 57IB and the Army’s Special Forces launched against New Peoples’ Army (NPA) rebels since last week.

On Nov. 26, the soldiers, while patrolling in Barangay Doles in Magpet, chanced upon some 20 NPAs and exchanged gunfire, reports said.

At least 14 households or 53 individuals evacuated to Barangay Doles and set up their temporary shelter inside the compound of the barangay hall.

Armed clashes renewed last Tuesday when patrolling soldiers again chanced upon a group of rebels in Barangay Doles.

The fighting lasted for 30 minutes, which resulted in death of a member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) identified as Daniel Mahasang.

Lt. Nasrullah Sema, chief of the civil military operations of the 55IB, said their troops in the area needed fire support so they fired 105mm mortars in areas they suspected as rebel bases. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)