SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: An Army sergeant and a militiaman belonging to the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) were killed in separate attacks in Central Mindanao on Tuesday.
Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, director of the Maguindanao provincial police office, identified the victim as Sgt. Zaldy Caliman of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion, who died instantly from multiple bullet wounds.
Tello said Caliman was with his wife and 11-year-old son who were riding a motorcycle on their way to Guindulungan town in Maguindanao when attacked by suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) along the Maguindanao-Sultan Kudarat Highway.
Police investigators said two gunmen, suspected to be BIFF members riding the motorcycle, were following Caliman and flagged them down and shot the soldier with caliber 45 pistols.
“It seems the attack was a ‘liquidation mission’ because only the off-duty Sgt. Caliman was targeted,” Tello said.
Caliman was reportedly on a two-day vacation leave from his battalion headquarters in Ampatuan town to visit his farm in Guindulungan.
During the last two years, more than a dozen off-duty soldiers in Central Mindanao have been killed in separate incidents by suspected BIFF gunmen.
Similarly on the same day, Cafgu member Eliseo Sicao was reportedly shot dead by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in an encounter in Barangay Basak in Magpet, North Cotabato.
Sicao and his companions were ambushed by NPA rebels while on their way to Sitio Buay-Buay in Barangay Basak to verify the reported presence of rebels collecting protection money from villagers there.
Although outnumbered, the Cafgu men returned fire, wounding four rebels.
The NPA rebels immediately withdrew when they sensed that responding personnel of the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion were closing in on them.
Witnesses said the rebels fled to the hinterland of Barangay Basak carrying with them their four wounded comrades, two of them identified only as Romeo and Warlito.
Meanwhile, Army soldiers were on red alert for more NPA attacks.