Six people, including three children, got killed while eight others, most of whom are minors, were injured when armed men detonated dynamites and fired at civilians in Lapuyan, Zamboanga del Sur, Thursday afternoon, authorities said.

Senior Supt. Jose Bayani Gucela, Zamboanga del Sur provincial police director, identified the fatalities as Daylin Daano, 25, and her son Daryl, 2; Raquiel, 28, and Rex Langhay, 9; Henerita Bayombon, 11; and Jun Banghulot, 62.

Those injured, aged 2, 6, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, and 37, were brought to different hospitals because of blast wounds, bullet wounds, and hack wounds.

About 10 fully-armed men led by Amie Andi opened fire at residents of Sitio Bihing, Brgy. Tininghlanag, around 4:30 p.m. then fled towards the northwest, Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesman, said in a text message Thursday night.

Reached by phone Friday morning, Gucela said the attackers also used dynamites and hacked the victims.

“Apat na bahay ito na pinasok ng mga armado, hinagisan ng dynamite tapos ini-strafing nila. After ng strafing tinaga pa, pati mga injured may mga tama ng taga,” Gucela said.

Most of the victims are relatives of militiaman Dencio Tayabag, who recently guided troops in an operation against “lawless elements,” Cabangbang said.

The February 11 operation, which saw Tayabag guide members of the 5th Infantry Battalion and Lapuyan’s Bantay Bayan, resulted in the death of Samang Andi, leader of the lawless elements and a brother of Amie Andi, according to military.

“Lawless group ito na kung minsan ay affiliated sa Abu Sayyaf,” Gucela said.

Members of the Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion, PNP Regional Public Safety Battalion, and Provincial Public Safety Company have been sent to pursue the attackers who are still believed to be in Zamboanga del Sur.

Police stations in the adjacent towns of Margosatubig, Vicenzo Sagun, San Miguel, and Kumalarang, on the other hand, were placed on “heightened alert” and told to be on the lookout for the gunmen.

“Hindi na nagtaas ng alert ang provincial police kasi isolated ito dun sa iisang lugar, pero ‘yung apat na police stations naka-heightened alert,” Gucela said. (John Roson)

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