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Philippines: Stray Bullet in Drug-War Shootout Kills 4-Year-Old Boy

Dennis Jay Santos and Karl Romano
Davao and Manila, Philippines
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Greg Garcia, 11, (left), and Jenalyn Fernandez, 10, visit the resting place of Danica Mae Garcia, 4, who was killed by a stray bullet allegedly fired by vigilantes carrying out President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs in 2016.
Karl Romano/BenarNews

A 4-year-old boy died Wednesday after being hit by a stray bullet fired during a gun battle between Philippine police and suspected drug addicts in central Cebu city, officials said.

The boy, identified as Blader Skyler Capuno Abatayo, and his mother were playing inside the family’s home when he was hit in the chest by an apparent stray bullet, police said. It was not clear if the errant shot came from the police or the group of alleged small-time drug dealers, all of whom managed to escape.

Superintendent Reyman Tolentin, regional police spokesman, said the raiding team surprised four suspects who were repacking illegal drugs apparently for street sale.

“One of the male suspects suddenly pulled an undetermined caliber of firearm and fired a shot, forcing the police officers to maneuver away,” Tolentin said in an incident report.

He said the suspects managed to “hastily jump over the window to the adjoining house” before escaping. The boy, who was in an adjacent shanty, died at the scene.

This is the latest collateral death lodged in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, which rights groups say has left more than 12,000 dead since he assumed office two years ago. Police denied the figure but have admitted to having killed more than 4,000 suspected drug dealers and addicts in gunfights.

In August 2016, a stray bullet fired by pro-government vigilantes killed Danica Mae Garcia, 5. Her grandfather apparently was the intended target of the shooters who remain at large.

Last year, three teenagers were killed separately in police anti-drugs operations near Manila, in what were apparently cases of mistaken identity. Their deaths caused a public outcry, temporarily forcing Duterte to pull police from leading anti-drug operations.

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