(Updated 11 p.m.) Two Marine troopers were killed while two children were injured after being shot at a cathderal in Jolo, Sulu, Thursday, authorities said.
Cpl. Danilo Agustin and Pfc. Gilmor Panitan, both of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 9 (MBLT-9), died of multiple bullet wounds, Col. Jose Johriel Cenabre, commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade, said.
Daniela Rose Iting, 6, and Ellyeza Faith Salo, 5, suffered bullet wounds to the right arm and right heel, respectively, Cenabre said.
The shooting occurred around 11:45 a.m. at the Mt. Carmel Cathedral.
Armed men fired upon soldiers securing the cathedral then hastily left, Cenabre said.
Iting and Salo, who happened to be at the church, were hit by stray bullets, he said.
Initial investigation by the Jolo Police indicated a slightly different story.
A man went inside the cathedral, where Agustin and Panitan took post, then forcibly grabbed the M16 rifle of one of the soldiers, Senior Insp. Kris Conrad Gutierrez, Sulu provincial police spokesman, said.
The man immediately fired upon one soldier and went after the other – who ran towards the kitchen – and shot him, Gutierrez said, citing information from the Jolo Police.
Iting, Salo and a cook aged 30 were caught in the volley of fire, he said.
Cenabre said Agustin and Panitan were rushed to the Camp Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital in Brgy. Busbus, but were both declared dead by military doctors.
The injured children were taken to the Sulu Provincial Hospital and are now in stable condition, he said.
Police and members of the MBLT-9 have been deployed to Brgy. San Raymundo to locate the assailant. (John Roson)
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