COTABATO CITY – Police authorities in North Cotabato on Sunday assured the public that the ongoing armed hostilities involving Moro clans in Matalam town will not spill over to other areas.
“Efforts are also underway to convince the Ambel and Naga clans to silence their guns so peaceful and diplomatic means to address the cause of clan war will have its way,” said Col. Henry Villar, provincial police director.
A long-standing feud involving the families of Datu Dima Ambel of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Naig Naga of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) erupted since Wednesday night following the ambush-slay of Barangay Kilada village councilor Norodin Ambel.
Ambel is the son of Dima, chair of the MNLF Sebangan Kutawato Revolutionary Committee in the area.
Ambel died on the spot when gunmen, allegedly led by Naga, ambushed the pickup truck he was driving with six others, including Barangay Kilada chairperson Rowena De Leon.
The village chief was critically injured while five others in the same vehicle escaped unharmed in the ambush that took place in neighboring Barangay Matalam.
A day after the ambush, gunmen believed to be the ambushers, torched the red Isuzu pickup left idle by the roadside in the same village.
Villar said the intermittent clashes following the ambush so far left no civilians injured but admitted some 200 families from several sub-villages of Barangays Kilada, and Marbel have fled to safer grounds.
Villar said soldiers and police officers have been deployed around the village while fighting was ongoing to prevent reinforcement for both sides coming from other places.
“The clash site is situated some three kilometers away from populated areas,” he said.
North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco is set to meet with the elders of warring Muslim families for diplomatic solutions to the problem.
Police and military authorities said the conflict was not organizational and that both leaders of MNLF and MILF are also trying to intervene. (IA/PNA)