SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/12 December) — A retired U.S. Marine survived an ambush attempt Tuesday in a remote village in this city.
A police report said Mark Ernest Southworth, 56, was riding his Toyota Hi-Lux from his residence in Barangay Balibayon and was ambushed upon reaching Escalon Bridge in the said village.
Five heavily armed men clad in military uniforms tried to flag him down, but he instead sped off. The attackers then fired at the car’s tires.
Southworth, who was his family and two housemaids, drove his vehicle to the Surigao Memorial Park where they hid.
He went afterwards to the police to report the incident. Nobody was hurt.
At the time of the incident, nine unidentified armed men reportedly barged into the house of the former Marine.
Police investigators said the door of the house was forcibly using an axe.
Police said Southworth’s passbook and undetermined worth of jewelries were taken by the armed men who were believed to be communist rebels.
On Wednesday, a certain Ka Edron who claimed to be an official of the New People’s Army told dxKS-RPN news anchor Jun Clerigo that the rebel group was responsible of the incident.
Ka Edron accused Southworth of committing abuses. He, however, said they were only after his guns and did not intend to harm the ex-Marine and his family.
The rebel leader said a section of Front Committee 16-B was looking for the M16 rifle allegedly owned by Southworth but only found binoculars and a sniper scope.
Ka Edron also denied the accusation that their members took the American’s passbook and jewelries.
A CCTV footage provided by the victim to the police showed that nine armed men forcibly opened the door lock and searched his house.
Supt. Ruben Delos Santos, chief of police in Surigao City has provided security to the victim and his family.
Village chair Reneboy Aquino told reporter today that before he assumed his position he had heard many complaints against Southworth from the residents.
Aquino said among the complaints were poking a gun at children, fencing of mangroves, and failing to register as a resident of the barangay.
MindaNews tried to get comments from the American but failed, as he and his family were hiding in an undisclosed location for their safety. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)