September 25, 2023 | 12:39pm
COTABATO CIT— More than 300 ethnic Tedurays have abandoned their ancestral lands in Maguindanao del Norte after gunmen shot their houses with assault rifles and forced them to leave at gunpoint in an attack early Sunday.
Brig. Gen. Allan Cruz Nobleza, director of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, and Army Major Gen. Alex Santos Rillera, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, separately announced on Monday that they have dispatched teams to investigate the incident.
Teduray evacuees on Monday said that men armed with M14 and M16 assault rifles arrived at their tribal dwelling enclaves in Sitio Tubaran in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte before dawn Sunday. The suspects opened fire and asked the evacuees to leave.
“We were forced to leave. We have no way but to give in because we can’t fight them. We are unarmed,” a Teduray farmer, who asked to be identified only as Moh Kedew for security reasons, told reporters on Monday.
Rillera said barangay leaders in Labungan have provided Army intelligence agents with names of the men who led the attack, now being validated with the help of the local police.
The incident was preceded by the incursions by heavily armed men early this month into Teduray villages in two barangays in South Upi in Maguindanao del Sur, causing the displacement of no fewer than 300 poor families, still languishing in evacuation sites in the municipality since.