COTABATO CITY – The military here launched an investigation following Sunday’s alleged mortar blast that killed two children and wounded over a dozen others in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
Lt. Col. Edgardo Vilchez Jr., the spokesperson of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID), said the probe came about to clear issues implicating the 6ID to the incident.
“We have no troops operating in the area, specifically on the village where the incident happened,” Vilchez said over radio DXMY here Monday.
He added that the 6ID has not launched any offensive on any part of Maguindanao on Sunday, especially since the province and the rest of the Islam faithful in the country silently celebrated Eid’l Fitr — the end of the month-long fasting period of Ramadan amid the health crisis.
“An initial report we have received is that it was an improvised explosive device that exploded, but we are still looking into it,” Vilchez said.
On Sunday, two kids, aged 10 and seven, were killed while 14 others were injured as an alleged 81-mm mortar projectile hit several houses in Barangay Kitango, Datu Saudi Ampatuan around 4 p.m. Sunday.
The fatalities were identified as Aslamiya Tambak, 10, and her sister Asnaida, 7, both of Barangay Kitango and daughters of Sayid Tambak, an employee of the municipal government.
Town Administrator Musib Tan said the younger Asnaida died on the spot while Aslamiya died after a few hours at the hospital.
“The victims were watching television when the explosion occurred,” Tan said in a separate radio interview. He said the children’s mother, identified as Noraisa Tambak, 40, together with 13 others, including several children, were wounded in the blast.
“At least three houses were hit by the blast,” Tan said, quoting a report from the municipal disaster risk reduction and management office.
Vilchez identified their military unit in the area as that of the 57th Infantry Battalion (57IB) that has been battling the Daesh-inspired Karialan faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in the interiors of the municipality.
“The 57IB has detachments in Barangays Ilian and Lower Salbu of the municipality but not in the village of Kitango,” Vilchez said. PNA