Saturday, June 23, 2012

2 dead, 5 hurt in mining site attack

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- The peace and order situation in the mines development site of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines Inc. has worsened following Wednesday’s attack that wounded five people and killed a policeman and mining consultant.

Military and mining company officials confirmed Thursday that tribal members attacked the development site in sitio Maklak in Barangay Kimlawis in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

John B. Arnaldo, Sagittarius mines external communications and media relations manager, said armed men ambushed a police vehicle escorting a water truck traveling to the mine site.

The victims are identified as Police Officer 1 Roy Tunsoy and Villarmino Hectin, a security consultant of Sagittarius Mines. Hectin was brought to a hospital in Digos City but was pronounced dead upon arrival.

The attack came three days after an identified suspect killed a security guard of the mining company also within the Tampakan copper-gold project area.

First Lieutenant Bethuel N. Barber, civil military officer of the 27th Infantry Battalion, said the group that ambushed the victims and clashed with responding government troops was allegedly headed by Daguil Capion.

Barber said two members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit were wounded in an ensuing clash with the tribal members. The two were brought to the Camp Panacan military hospital in Davao City for treatment.

The suspect is blaming the mining company for the atrocities in the mines site, saying bloodshed could have been avoided if only Sagittarius Mines heeded their demand to abandon the project.

Last year, Capion admitted responsibility to the ambush that killed three workers of a construction company hired by Sagittarius Mines for a road project.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexis Noel Bravo, 27th IB commander, ordered a continued manhunt operations against the suspects, Barber said.

Arnaldo said that as precautionary measure, Sagittarius Mines has suspended its operations at the tri-boundary of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur provinces.

“All our activities within the project area have been temporarily suspended until further notice," he added. (BSS/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)