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Suspects in Agusan massacre hunted

BUTUAN CITY – Military and police forces are hunting down the armed group who massacred a family belonging to Taandig tribe morning of June 5 at Mount Katalawan, Barangay Binicalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur.

Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion (8th IB), police and local authorities are jointly investigating the brutal killing of certain Lando Bocalas, his wife Julina Bocalas, who was five months pregnant; and brother Mancolobe.

The couple’s three other children – Rosalyn, 8; Bahanan, 6; and Bayubasan, 4 – were missing as of yesterday.

The bodies of the couple and Mancolobe were found by responding lawmen at about 8 a.m. on June 9 on the side of Taguikan Creek at Barangay Binicalan, San Luis town of the province, according to 1Lt. Karl Jan S. Devaras, information officer of 4th Civil-Military Operations Battalion (4th CMOB).

The couple’s 10-year old son (identity withheld), who survived the attack, narrated to police authorities what happened to his family on June 5.

Police learned that that the victims left their home at Purok 3, Barangay Freedom, Cabanglasan town, Bukidnon, and headed to Mt. Katawalan, Barangay Binicalan, San Luis town.

While traversing Taguikan Creek, the victims were fired upon by unidentified armed men, said Devaras.

During the incident, the 10-year old son managed to take cover and run away until he reached Indalasa area in Cabanglasan town, Devaras said.

The boy’s report prompted government authorities to conduct rescue and retrieval operations for the Bocalas family.

“It took almost 4 days hike in the mountainous area just to reach Taguikan Creek where the bodies of the victims were retrieved,” he said.

Police said the motive behind the incident has yet to be established.

Government forces are still conducting hot pursuit operations against the armed group to rescue the three other children. (Mike U. Crismundo)