COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 24 May) — A 10-year old girl and her seven-year old brother were killed when an 81-mm mortar exploded inside their house in Barangay Kitango, Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao at around 4:20 p.m. on Sunday, as families were celebrating Eid’l Fitr, the end of Ramadan.
Musib Tan, administrator of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, said the victims were the children of Boy Tambak, radio operator and cameraman at the town hall.
Tan said the victims were inside their house watching TV when the explosion occurred. Eleven persons were immediately rushed to the Maguindanao provincial hospital in Datu Hoffer town.
The military, according to Tan, explained to him that it would be impossible for them to commit a mistake in coordinates, claiming they aimed the mortars on the enemy position.
“We will have to check this with the brigade dahil walang operation ngayon” (because there are no operations today), Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, commander of the 6th Infantry Division said.
The explosion, Tan said, instantly killed seven-year old Sadim Tambak while his 10-year old sister died in the hospital.
Noraisa, their mother, was in critical condition and was transferred to the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in Cotabato along with eight of the injured.
Tan said that ahead of the explosion on Sunday, a series of gunfire could be heard in nearby Barangay Illian where alleged members of the Dawlah Islamiya Mindanao and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters had reportedly been harassing troops of the 57th Infantry Battalion the past few days.
Tan said he was informed that four military detachments in the area were simultaneously harassed every day and night.
A few days ago, a police station in the neighboring town of Datu Salibo was planted with an improvised explosive device.
He said the situation in the area remains volatile as residents, fearing another harassment or a crossfire between government troops and lawless elements, fled their villages. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)