3 killed, 3 others hurt in NorthCot shootings

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/26 September) – Three suspected drug couriers were killed and three others were wounded in three separate shooting incidents in North Cotabato.

Police said one of the incidents was related to their anti-illegal drive dubbed “Oplan Double Barrel”.

In Pikit town, a 16-year old boy was killed and three of his companions were wounded when unidentified gunmen fired at them while they were preparing dinner inside a hut in Barangay Mahad, around 6 p.m., Monday.

Authorities identified the slain victim as Abdul Yasser Esmael, and the wounded as Farida Abdullah, 32, Wawan Lamada, and a four-year old boy.

Chief Inspector Romy Castanares, chief of Pikit municipal police station, said the assailants arrived on two motorcycles and fired at the victims using M16 rifles.

The motorcycles, both red Kawasaki CT 100, had no license plates.

The house is owned by a certain Akmad Bantuan Palaman, who, Castanares said was the real target of the gunmen.

Palaman was not in his house when the attack happened.

After the shooting, Esmael was found dead on the floor while three of his relatives suffered gunshot wounds in different parts of their bodies and were rushed to the nearest hospital for treatment.

Castanares said they have yet to determine if the attack was related to clan feud or illegal drugs.

In Matalam town, a businessman whom the police suspected of engaging in illegal drug trade was killed when he reportedly tried to prevent a raiding team from searching his house, around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, reports from Matalam police said.

Killed was Clay Solas Magallanes, 41, a trader from Rotunda, Poblacion in Matalam.

Chief Inspector Mautin Pangandigan, Matalam police chief, said the raiding team from the Cotabato Police Provincial Office, Regional Public Safety Battalion, and the Matalam police went to Magallanes’ house to search for illegal drugs and explosives.

Pangandigan said the raid was part of police’s Oplan Double Barrel, and was done based on two search warrants issued by Judge Alandrex Betoya of the Regional Trial Court Branch 16 in Kabacan.

He said the suspect tried to lob a hand grenade towards the raiding team to elude arrest but the operatives fired their guns killing him.

Pangandigan said Magallanes was arrested early this year after his wife filed complaints against him for physical abuse. It was his wife that told police that he had firearms and explosives in his possession.

The raiding team recovered from the suspect a fragmentation grenade, some sachets of shabu and drug paraphernalia, police said.

Also in Matalam, a suspected drug courier and a fruit vendor identified as Arnold Agustin, 35, was gunned down by a still unidentified suspect, around 10:30 a.m. Monday.

Police said Agustin was driving his Honda Wave motorcycle when waylaid by the gunman along Purok Tagumpay 2 in Barangay Marbel, Matalam.

Agustin sustained multiple gunshot wounds in different parts of his body.

Authorities hinted the killing could be drug-related. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)