Rifle grenade explodes in Mamasapano village

TUKANALIPAO, Mamasapano, Maguindanao (MindaNews/24 July) – Tension has again gripped this village after a rifle grenade exploded near a farmer’s house Thursday night.

Norodin Madsig, 43, said the rifle grenade landed and went off about 10 meters away from his house.

Nobody was hurt but the incident sent jitters to Madsig’s family and his neighbors.

Madsig recalled that he was fixing his motorbike at past 8:45 p.m. when a loud explosion occurred. His house was hit by shrapnel.

The shrapnel, which missed his son who was already sleeping at the time, created two holes near his home.

“My son was lucky enough he was not hit by shrapnel,” he said.

Lt. Colonel Joel Mamon, chief of the 40th Infantry Battalion stationed in Tukanalipao, said the rifle grenade attack was fired from an open ricefield a few meters away.

He said the perpetrators were probably members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Mamon said the target could be the Army base but the attackers miscalculated and the grenade landed instead near Madsig’s home.

Madsig said if similar incidents occur in the future, he will move his family from Tukanalipao.

“I’m not comfortable so long as the soldiers are here. If another explosion occurs, we will all leave this place once more,” he said.

Tukanalipao residents left their homes for fear of retaliation from government forces after the elite Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police sustained 44 casualties on January 25 against various armed groups in the area.

Seventeen fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and five civilians were also reported killed.

The police commandos went to Mamasapano to get Indonesian bomber Zulkipli bin Hir alias Marwan and his aide, Abdulbasit Usman. Marwan was reported killed in the raid based on the DNA sample obtained by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Hopefully, no soldiers will be stationed here so that there will be no attacks,” Madsig said.

But Mamon said the Army detachment was necessary to secure the ongoing government project in the area.

The government was constructing a mosque and a concrete bridge near the site of the clash.

Meanwhile, several journalists based in Mindanao and Manila gathered for the two-day forum titled “Beyond Mamasapano: Reporting the Bangsamoro Peace Process” in Cotabato City that started on Friday. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)