Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. on Tuesday ordered an impartial investigation on the 81mm mortar explosion that took the life of two children and injured at least 15 others in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao during the celebration of Eid’ l Fitr.
According to Police Lt. Melvin Laguting, chief of police of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, they received a report that an 81mm mortar exploded at Tambac family residence in Barangay Kitango at around 3:30 pm, Sunday.
The victims’ house is located near a Kitango public market.
Laguting said the two fatalities, Aslamia and Sadam Tambak, were siblings aged seven and 10. He also said one of the kids died on the spot while the other succumbed to severe injuries in the local hospital.
“Their parents were also injured,” said Laguting. “We are still conducting an investigation to identify the perpetrators.”
Maguindanao mortar explosion
“We are saddened by what transpired on Sunday. We would like to assure our Moro brothers and sisters that we shall leave no stone unturned as we seek justice for the victims,” Galvez said.
“I would like to appeal to the residents who have been affected by the ongoing armed conflict, as well as the leadership of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) for calmness and sobriety as authorities conduct an investigation on the incident,” he added.
The military said the mortar explosion could be related to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
According to reports, the Philippine Army was conducting operations against the BIFF before the incident.
Major Arvin Encinas, the spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), however, denied that were offensives against BIFF when the explosion occurred.
“Wala tayong ground troops, walang operation na nangyari during that time of the incident,” Encinas told reporters on Monday.
(We have no ground troops, no operation was conducted during that time of the incident.)
A group of Moro Islamic Freedom Fighters (MILF) in the same barangay were ambushed where three Islamic militants were killed four hours before the blast, Encinas said.
He also added that there was an ongoing “rido” or family feud in the area where the mortar exploded.