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Pregnant woman dies in wedding assault

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – A pregnant woman was killed while seven others were wounded when a group of armed men fired at a crowd of people attending a tribal wedding ceremony in a village in Bukidnon over the weekend, police said Sunday morning.

Regional police spokesperson Supt. Surki Sereñas said the incident took place in Sitio Tibugawan, Barangay Kawayan in San Fernando town, Bukidnon.

The shooting, Sereñas said, may be part of a “manggahat” or “pangayaw” (tribal war) launched allegedly by an armed group led by Aldie Salusad, alias “Butsoy”, supposedly against Lumad folk sympathetic or members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Sereñas disclosed that the San Fernando police, town officials and an indigenous peoples representative have proceeded to a remote village that is said to be a known lair of the NPA.

“Datu Cris Linsagan, municipal tribal chieftain, made initial moved so that the problem will not (escalate),” Sereñas said, adding that “the Army is on standby, if needed.”

Killed on the spot was one Makinit Gayoran, who was a few months pregnant with her supposed first child, when Salusad’s group allegedly fired at wedding attendees.

Two of the wounded were identified as Boras Sedom, 28, and Kambo Bangonan, 28 while the five others – three teenagers, one eight-year-old boy, and a seven-year-old boy – were brought to the hospital to receive medical treatment.

A teaching staff of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR) witnessed the shooting which happened as the wedding ceremony was about to end.

“They fired at the entire community but concentrated at the house where around 80 individuals were gathered for the wedding,” the witness said.

Gayoran was reportedly hit in the chest causing her instantant death, the witness added.

Datu Arnold Manhura, the IP Mandatory Representative in Kawayan, met with Salusad prior to the incident in Sitio Spring and pleaded not to disrupt the wedding.

Salusad was seen dressed in military camouflage and combat shoes, and was fully armed, accompanied by at least 11 other armed men, when Manhura met him on the road.

“They (Salusad and his men) also brought with them two residents from Sitio Spring and Sitio Tibugawan tied with a rope, (and were) forced to guide the group,” RMP-NMR quoted Manhura as saying.

A few minutes after talking to Salusad, Manhura said the armed group started firing indiscriminately at the house where the wedding was held.

RMP-NMR said Salusad’s group has been allegedly terrorizing the tribal communities in San Fernando for several years now. (CAMCER IMAM)