Monday, August 02, 2010

Gunmen strafe bus, truck in Zamboanga village

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 2, 2010) – Unidentified gunmen strafed a commuter bus and a private truck on a highway in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines, police said on Monday.

Police said there were no reported casualties in the attack, but the strafing sent a chilling warning that travelers are no longer safe on the road. The attack occurred late Sunday on a village called Tagasilay.

“I told my passengers to duck and luckily no was hurt or killed in the attack,” said Gilbert Denila, driver of the bus owned by Rural Transit of Mindanao.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attack, but it was the second strafing in two weeks in Zamboanga’s highway.

Gunmen also opened fired on a commuter bus in Muti village on July 22, wounding one person. He attack was largely blamed by the military to bandits operating in Zamboanga City.

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

A village official on Mampang was killed and his companions injured after gunmen ambushed them July 13 in Zamboanga City.

The ambush came a day after a lone gunman fatally shot a jeep driver who was plying the village route 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.

The attack on village officials occurred just as the local peace and order council was meeting to tackle the spate of killings and gun attacks in Zamboanga. Also in July, villagers discovered three bodies buried in a pit on a village of 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.

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. One of the chief suspects in the murders was arrested by the police recently from his hideout in Mindoro province and another suspect surrendered to the police.

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. (Mindanao Examiner)

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