Cotabato City: Tension is brewing in Datu Blah Sinsuat town in Maguindanao after suspected followers of a defeated mayoralty candidate went on raampage on Saturday, firing at houses in a coastal village whose residents are known supporters of the town’s reelected mayor.
According to police, armed men carrying assault rifles arrived at the fishing village of Barangay Tambak and surrounded the houses of community leaders who supported the bid of Mayor-elect Marcial Sinsuat.
Without any provocation, the gunmen fired at the houses of the cited community leaders, sending hundreds of residents scampering toward safety, said the police.
Authorities also said that the unidentified gunmen beat the 18-year-old son of a barangay council member who campaigned for Sinsuat.
Sinsuat defeated his own cousin, Datu Manawut, in the town’s mayoralty race in the recent elections.
Another villager, meanwhile, was held hostage for several hours.
Police said that the gunmen used the victim as their guide and shield during their escape toward a forested area east of Barangay Tambak after the shooting.
Sinsuat, sitting as chairperson of the municipal peace and order council, said he has asked the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to investigate the incident, which dislocated dozens of Muslim and Teduray villagers.
The evacuees are now staying at an empty elementary school building at the center of Barangay Tambak.
The evacuees have implicated Barangay Tambak’s former barangay chairperson in the attack, saying that he conspired with the gunmen.
The former barangay official allegedly provided some guides to the gunmen, helping the assailants locate the residences of the community leaders.