TULUNAN, North Cotabato – – Six persons died on Tuesday after two warring groups engaged in an intense firefight at the border of this town and adjacent municipality of Columbio in Sultan Kudarat province.
Insp. Rolando Dillera, Tulunan police chief, initially identified three of the six fatalities as Loloy Lumacad of Barangay Kanebong, Columbio town; and also Renato Tadiaque and Anthony Camiring, both from Barangay Maybula, Tulunan.
Responding authorities have also recovered from the encounter site along Maybula, a farming village here inhabited mostly by Ilonggos and B’laan natives, three unidentified bodies of Moro farmers who died during the clash.
Dillera said the conflict was triggered by the stealing at dawn Tuesday of a carabao owned by a certain Fernandez in Sitio Saban, Maybula, by two still unidentified minors from adjoining Columbio town.
Fernandez pursued the rowdy juveniles and manhandled them before taking back his farm animal.
Shortly thereafter, however, a group of Moro natives from Columbio town attacked him but survived after getting help from other Ilonggo farmers in the area.
Around 7 a.m. Tuesday, a firefight broke out after armed Moro natives attacked Maybula village.
As the Maybula clash was raging, an offshoot encounter also sparked between Ilonggo and Moro natives in Barangay Kanebong of adjacent Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat province.
Dillera said a deep-seated animosity has long existed between Ilonggo and Moro farmers in the villages of Maybula and Kanebong, both situated in the boundary of Tulunan and Columbio towns respectively.
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Tulunan Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has recorded 64 families or nearly 300 individuals as having fled the warzone. JOHN ANDREW G. TABUGOC/PNA