Mayor Killed, another Injured in Southern Philippine Attack

BenarNews staff
2021.12.06
Zamboanga, Philippines
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Mayor Killed, another Injured in Southern Philippine Attack Supporters of Mayor Darussalam Lajid carry his remains to a speedboat after he and a bodyguard were killed in a coastal village in southern Zamboanga city, Philippines, Dec. 6, 2021.
BenarNews

Gunmen ambushed and fatally shot a mayor along with one of his security escorts, while another mayor accompanying the duo was injured in a coastal village in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga on Monday, police said.

The two killed were Darussalam Lajid, mayor of Al-Barka on the island of Basilan, and his security escort, Barad Nuruddin, local police commander Maj. Chester Natividad said.

Natividad said Alih Sali, a mayor of another municipality in Basilan, was injured in Baliwasan Seaside village.

The victims had just arrived on a speedboat and were walking “near a mosque and four males attacked them … all with firearms, but only one fired at Lajid,” Natividad told reporters.

“The target appeared to be Mayor Lajid as he sustained most of the bullets fired, and Mayor Sali was able to dash away toward their speedboat but he also sustained gunshot wounds,” the police commander said.

The suspects escaped in a white SUV and a search has been ordered, police said, adding the four have not been identified. Police also said they did not immediately know the motive for the attack or whether it was linked to the 2022 elections across the Philippines.

The victims were rushed to a nearby hospital, but Lajid and Nuruddin died before receiving medical aid while Sali was reported to be in stable condition Monday afternoon, police said.

Birthplace of Abu Sayyaf

The island of Basilan is the birthplace of the Abu Sayyaf extremist group whose members have carried out attacks targeting local officials, Christian missionaries and businesses.

Some Abu Sayyaf members are known to work as guns-for-hire, police and military intelligence officials have said, especially during election season, which started last month.

Basilan’s lone representative to the House of Representatives, Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman, condemned Monday’s attack and called on police to conduct a speedy investigation. He also called for a thorough and independent probe.

“This violent crime has no place in a society that is deeply anchored on peace and a shared faith,” he said in a statement. “I condemn the people behind the shooting and I call on the authorities to thoroughly investigate the murder of a public official and the wounding of another.”

Lajid had been locked in a feud with his vice mayor, Mujib Jakilan, but the two signed a peace pact last month, the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported. In August, their followers shot it out in Basilan, leaving one dead from each side.

Political killings are common in the Philippines, especially in far-flung areas.

In 2019, 23 people were killed and 50 injured during Philippine mid-term polls. As many as 50 people died in election-related violence during the 2016 presidential vote, according to national police statistics.

In June, police said they were looking to dismantle 150 known “private armed groups” nationwide known to be controlled by politicians ahead of the 2022 polls.

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