Cotabato City under tight watch
COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Authorities placed the whole city under tight watch following the transfer of a notorious Moro bandit to the Maguindanao Provincial Jail.
Security forces transferred Datukan Samad alias Commander Lastikman, from Kidapawan City to the provincial jail, which is located in Cotabato City, over the weekend. The transfer was made after theMidsayap City Regional Trial Court cleared him of a kidnapping case filed in 2007.
He was transferred to the provincial jail because he has other pending criminal cases in Maguindanao.
Security forces tightened the security in the city as Samad’s followers had tried to spring him from his detention cell in Kidapawan City last February.
Samad was transferred to the provincial jail by three teams from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, policemen and soldiers backed by combat vehicles.
The Midsayap City RTC dismissed two weeks ago the kidnapping charges against Samad. The case is in connection with the abduction of a German national and his wife while searching for prospective treasure hunting sites in Pikit town, five years ago.
The victims and witnesses failed to appear in court hearings due to security reasons, which caused the dismissal of the case.
Samad, who hails from Pikit, a town of mixed Muslim and Christian settlers in the first district of North Cotabato, is being prosecuted for multiple murders, highway robberies and cattle-rustling.
The Marine Battalion Landing Team 7, which is helping the city police maintain law and order in the 37 barangays in the city, has intensified its intelligence operations to detect any possible attempt by Samad followers to free him from the Maguindanao provincial jail.
Some 50 followers of Samad, armed with assault rifles and B-40 anti-tank rockets, tried to rescue him from the Kidapawan City jail. The attackers, however, were repelled by the jail guards.
As the gunmen escaped, they shot surrounding buildings with assault rifles and set off powerful improvised explosive devices, killing three people, one of them a responding Red Cross Cotabato worker, and wounding more than a dozen others.
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