2 soldiers shot dead outside church in Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/01 October) – He was supposed to celebrate his 23rd birth anniversary on Tuesday. But newly enlisted Pfc. Rex Limpahan died in an attack on the same day by suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Datu Piang town in Maguindanao.

Also killed was Pfc. Edward Baes, who accompanied Limpahan to the St. Therese church in Datu Piang to light a candle and offer a prayer for the latter’s birthday.

Both soldiers, who were unarmed at the time, belonged to the 62nd Division Recon Company. They were shot outside the gate of the church by men onboard a motorcycle, around 9:00 am.

The victims sustained several gunshot wounds in the head and body from .45 caliber and 9mm pistols and a carbine.

“The slain soldiers went to the church just wearing athletic uniforms to light a candle and offer a prayer for birthday celebration. We condemn this cowardly attack to our armless men knowing they came from a church”, said Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division.

Another source said at least seven persons staged the attack.

Former St. Therese Parish priest and peace advocate Fr. Bert Layson said he was saddened that the killing occurred in front of a church.

Some soldiers urged human rights groups to take action saying the attack was done against unarmed soldiers who had just come from a church.

MindaNews tried to reach the BIFF, which was yet to issue a statement on the incident.

In Cotabato City, men aboard a motorcycle opened fire and wounded three security guards manning the main gate of the Cotabato Regional Medical Center.

The victims were identified as Ameruddin Sumandal, Sahab Abdullah, and one Mohammad of Goldfield Security Agency.

Police said the attack occurred around 8:10pm Tuesday. At least 10 empty shells from a .45 caliber pistol were recovered from the crime scene.

The assailants took the M-16 rifle of one of the security guards before fleeing.

Sumandal was still fighting for this life in the emergency room of the same hospital.

Police said the motive could either be personal grudge or simply “agaw armas” (arms snatching). (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)