Monday, January 30, 2006

Gunmen Attack Packed Billiard Hall In Lanao, Kill 7

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 30 Jan) Seven people were killed when gunmen opened fire on a packed billiard hall in the southern Philippine province of Lanao del Sur, police said Monday.

Police said the gunmen who were in a van attacked a group of young men watching billiard games in Balabagan town on Saturday afternoon.

"Seven people were killed in the attack. We suspect rido as the motive behind the attack. This has something to do with family feud," said Senior Supt. Akmad Mamalinta, chief of police of the Muslim autonomous region.

He said the attack may have been triggered by the killing last month of a man in the town. "There is an ongoing operation to capture the assailants. We have identified the suspects," he told the Zamboanga Journal.

Most of those killed were Muslims, police said.

Rido or vendetta killing is common among warring clans in the southern Philippines and sometimes the hostilities could last for decades or until a peace pact is reach by the protagonists, usually, through mediation by religious leaders and the payment of bloodmoney.

More police forces were sent to the province to prevent retaliation or hostilities from spreading, Mamalinta said. "We have sent enough forces in the province to handle this brewing problem. We don't want to see more dead bodies on the street," he said.

Police said it is readying criminal charges against the gunmen.

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