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6 Killed in Gun Battles Between Southern Philippine Clans

Jeoffrey Maitem
Marawi City, Philippines
2018-05-21
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A military armored personnel carrier is deployed near Pantao Ragat town in the southern Philippine province of Lanao del Norte after a deadly clan war left four people dead, May 20, 2018.
A military armored personnel carrier is deployed near Pantao Ragat town in the southern Philippine province of Lanao del Norte after a deadly clan war left four people dead, May 20, 2018.
Richel V. Umel/BenarNews

At least six people, two of them policemen, were killed and several others wounded in separate clashes involving families locked in clan wars in the southern Philippines, authorities said Monday.

Heavily armed men ambushed a two-vehicle convoy of Mayor Lacson Lantud of Pantao Ragat in Lanao del Norte Sunday, leaving four of his companions dead, according to Lt. Col. Bernie Taquiban, commander of the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion.

The mayor was en route to inspect an infrastructure project when they were waylaid by unidentified gunmen in the remote village of Cabasagan, Taquiban told reporters.

Among those killed were two police officers detailed with Lantud’s security, the military said. The mayor escaped unharmed.

“We have suspects and we are looking into the angle and motive of family feud,” local police chief Recto Iwangon said.

Further to the south, in the archipelago of Sulu, two people were killed and 10 wounded in fighting between warring clans.

Army Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said the firefight erupted Sunday evening between the group of Maimbung Vice Mayor Musjasan Pando and Imal Matarol, a local political rival.

Sobejana said they were investigating the incident that resulted in the death of Maming Mudjasan, a former rebel commander, and a man named Jubilun Sampu.

“We have deployed troops in the area to prevent escalation of the fighting,” he said.

In the Philippines, particularly in predominantly Muslim areas of Mindanao island, it is not unusual for families to settle differences through clan wars or “rido.” Hostilities could last for decades until a peace pact is signed by the protagonists, usually through mediation by religious leaders and cash payment.

Political rivalries, ancestral land claims, disputes on local fiefdoms, as well as election-related feuds, often spur clan wars in Mindanao, the country’s mineral-rich southern third that has been locked into a cycle of violence for years. The island, which lies near the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah, has also been saddled by decades of local insurgencies and separatist movements.

Richel Umel from Iligan City contributed to this report.

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