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Soldier hurt in Cotabato City ambush dies



The soldier injured in Monday morning’s attack by suspected IS-linked militants has died while being treated in a government hospital here, raising to three the number of government troops killed by riding-in-tandem gunmen here and in Sultan Kudarat.

Authorities blamed the IS - linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the two separate attacks against members of the Philippine Army here and in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat.

Police Inspector Norberto Clayca, deputy chief of Cotabato City police station 4, said Private First Class Richard Bendanillo of the Army’s 5th Special Forces Battalion, died while getting medical attention at a government hospital several hours after he and companion, Corporal Nelson Paimalan, were ambushed in Barangay Kalanganan here.

Clayca said Paimalan died on the spot while Bendanillo sustained multiple gunshot wounds and rushed by responding policemen to a hospital.

The duo were returning home on board a motorbike from marketing chores when two men, also riding on a separate motorbike, shot them from behind using .45 - caliber pistols. Police said among the suspects were BIFF hitmen who were getting back at government forces for their losses in recent military offensives in Maguindanao.

Police are reviewing CCTV footages of business establishments near the ambush site.

In Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat, police are also blaming the BIFF hit squad in the murder of Corporal Ruel Dordas of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB).

Senior Supt. James Gulmatico, Sultan Kudarat provincial police director, said Dordas was with Sgt. Julhaib Ajirul, also of 33rd IB, onboard a motorbike going to their base from a peacekeeping mission in nearby village when they were waylaid in Barangay Tinumugues, Lambayong at 7:30 p.m. last Sunday.

Dordas died on the spot while Sgt. Ajirul remains in critical condition at a hospital in Tacurong City. Lt. Colonel Harold Cabunoc, Army’s 33rd IB commander, condemned the attack and vowed to bring the perpetrators before the bar of justice.

Cabunoc said his men were reaching out to communities to bring peace and yet they were waylaid. He sought the help of villagers to help the Army and the police identify and arrest the gunmen.

Police said initial investigation showed the BIFF had a hand in the ambush in Lambayong town.

Edwin Fernandez / PNA