Army soldier hurt in Maguindanao blast

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COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: A soldier of the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion (34IB) sustained shrapnel wounds when members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) set off an improvised explosive device (IED) along a road in Barangay Meta in Datu Unsay town, early Tuesday.

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Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID), said the BIFF rebels were trying to prevent patrolling Army troops from getting close to a village whose residents they subject to rebels’ taxation.

Datu Unsay is an impoverished town located in the second district of Maguindanao. Its former mayor, Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan, Jr., is now detained as the principal suspect in the Maguindanao massacre.

Army officers of the 34IB said they were surprised with the bombing, something they never thought the BIFF would perpetrate at a time when its leaders and members are observing Ramadan.

“There are continuing community patrols by soldiers in the area to maintain tranquility there, particularly at this time when peace is needed to ensure an undisrupted observance of Ramadan by local folks,” Capt. Petinglay said.

Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, which lasts for one lunar cycle. They avoid creating trouble or hurting their fellowmen and instead focus on good deeds and charitable acts as atonement for sins and as a religious obligation.

Warfare is strictly prohibited during the Ramadan, regarded by Muslims as a “holy month,” during which they reach out and reconcile even with their enemies.

But the recent explosion in Datu Unsay indicates the BIFF no longer respect or do not care to follow the spirit of the holy month.

Capt. Petinglay said the wounded combatant is now confined in a hospital here in this city and is now out of danger.

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