PIKIT, North Cotabato — Gunmen on board a luxury vehicle opened fire on soldiers manning a checkpoint Friday evening here, triggering a shootout that left five persons dead, including the son of former Maguindanao governor Norodin Matalam.
Brig. Gen. Alfredo del Rosario, commander of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade, said the soldiers manning a checkpoint in Barangay Inug-ug flagged down a gray Nissan Patrol (license plate LEM-521) as it approached the Pagalungan bridge for regular inspection at about 9:30 p.m.
Instead of complying, del Rosario said the individuals in the vehicle fired at the soldiers.
“They fired first at our soldiers,” he said. “Our soldiers returned fire to defend themselves.”
Del Rosario identified one of the slain victims as Datu Hashim Matalam, son of former governor Matalam. The identities of the four others were not made available as of posting.
Hashim was identified by his mother, Councilor Bai Noraisa Matalam of Pagalungan, Maguindanao.
Hashim was buried beside the tomb of his father in Sitio Tangila, Barangay Poblacion, Pagalungan.
Soldiers and police investigators found an M16 rifle, a .45-caliber pistol, rifle grenade, hand grenade and ammunition inside the victims’ car.
Del Rosario said the soldiers were on heightened alert due to a brewing clan war involving commanders of Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the interior villages of Pikit that started Wednesday. (PNA)