Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Village official killed in Zamboanga ambush

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 13, 2010) – A village official was killed and his companions injured after gunmen ambushed them Tuesday in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines.

The attack occurred just as the local peace and order council was meeting to tackle the spate of killings and gun attacks in Zamboanga. Just this week, villagers also discovered three bodies buried in a pit on a village called Mercedes. The cadavers bore stabbed wounds and its faces were covered in packing tape and one of the bodies was said to belong to a Muslim man.

The latest attack added to the growing concerns of many locals worried about the spate of violence in at least three villages – Mampang, Arena Blanco and Talon-Talon – where bloody clan feuds had already claimed the lives of many people.

The ambush of a village council member in Mampang came a day after a lone gunman fatally shot a jeep driver who was plying the village in front of many people. Prior to the daring shooting, gunmen also killed several people and exploded a hand grenade in a house in Mampang.

“There is something wrong here, there is something lacking here. We have replaced the police chief in that area and the attacks still continue. We need the cooperation of the people to put a stop to these killings,” said Senior Superintendent Edwin de Ocampo, the commander of the local police force.

Villagers were also afraid to come out in the open and tell what they know about the killings in the villages fearing reprisals from the criminals.

More than 100 people had been attacked by gunmen since early this year in Zamboanga City despite the presence of armed soldiers and policemen patrolling the streets. And police called these incidents isolated and government officials were quick to blame the proliferation of illegal firearms and urged authorities to intensify a campaign aimed at collecting these weapons.

Zamboanga has implemented a total gun ban the past years and despite this, the killings still go unabated. But most of the murders were perpetrated by professional killers who are actively operating in Zamboanga.

And legitimate gun owners, mostly businessmen, passed the blame to the police and military for its failure to maintain peace and order and urged authorities to hunt down the killers. (Mindanao Examiner)

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