• Treasurer, kids die in M’guindanao blast

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    MAGUINDANAO: The municipal secretary of Datu Salibo town and his family—including two young children and two others—were killed on Tuesday when their van as hit by an improvised bomb planted by the roadside in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, military officials said.

    Col. Felicisimo Budiongan, commander of Maguindanao-based 1st Mechanized Brigade identified the fatalities as Norodin Macabangen, 38, municipal treasurer of Datu Salibo town; his son Hamoud, 6; daughter Sofia, 9; his brother Benzar, 28; and staff Alex Alap Ganoy.

    Macabangen’s wife Lagabai remains in critical condition at Notre Dame Hospital in Cotabato City.

    Budiongan told The Manila Times that suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were behind the blast that wrecked the black Mitsubishi Delica van carrying Macabangen’s family.

    The van—with license plate RDX-928—was reportedly owned by Datu Salibo Mayor Norodin Salasal.

    Macabangen’s group came from Cotabato City and was on the way home to Datu Salibo when they were attacked.

    Lt. Colonel Warlito Limet, commander of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, said the blast was set off at about 10:30 p.m. in Sitio Pidsimbuluan, Barangay Lower Salbu, Datu Saudi Ampatuan town.

    Limet said the victims were already planning to go back to Cotabato City because of ongoing skirmishes.

    The blast occurred amid on-going pursuit operations by the military against the BIFF, which had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS).

    The sporadic firefights started on February 5 and has displaced thousands of families in Datu Salibo and nearby villages.

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