Suspected religious extremists shot dead Monday an off-duty militiaman in Pikit town, the fourth murder of a paramilitary volunteer in the province in about four months.
Chief Inspector Donald Cabigas of the Pikit municipal police said the fatality, Gilbert Samonte, Sr., was cutting grasses along a stretch of a highway in Barangay Dalingaoen when two men on a motorcycle arrived, pulled over and attacked with pistols.
The suspects also shot and wounded Samonte’s son, Gilbert Jr., now confined in a hospital.
The suspects escaped using their motorcycle even before responding soldiers guarding a roadside detachment about 40 meters away arrived at the scene.
Cabigas said police and Army intelligence units are now cooperating in identifying the culprits for them to be charged in court.
Local officials are convinced the murder of Samonte could be related still to the deep-seated animosity among local members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit residing at the border of North Cotabato’s adjoining Aleosan and Pikit towns and Moro guerillas led by Abdulrashid Ali.
Ali is known in the military and police intelligence communities as a violent religious extremist wanted for various criminal offenses.
Two of Ali’s followers were killed early on by CAFGUs when they tried to rob villagers of their cattle grazing in an open field in Barangay Tubak in Aleosan.
Hostilities again erupted between both sides two weeks ago, causing the dislocation of dozens of peasant families.
Ali’s group has been blamed for three fatal attacks on off-duty CAFGUs based in Pikit and Aleosan early on.