Soldier slain, another injured in NoCot ambush

By Edwin Fernandez

January 23, 2020, 2:57 pm

<p>Google map of Midsayap town, North Cotabato.</p>

Google map of Midsayap town, North Cotabato.

MIDSAYAP, North Cotabato -- Military and police authorities here and in neighboring Maguindanao province are in pursuit of motorcycle riding-in-tandem who ambushed and killed a soldier and wounded another on Wednesday.

Lt. Col. John Miridel Calinga, Midsayap town police chief, identified the victims as Cpl. Earl Tabaranza, 31, and Pfc. Meljay Bernal, 30, both members of the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion (34IB).

Bernal died while being treated in a hospital two hours after they were ambushed at 11 a.m. along the national highway in Barangay Central Glad, about five kilometers from the town center, police said.

"He (Bernal) succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds in the body,” Calinga said in an interview by reporters here.

Tabaranza, meanwhile, remains in critical condition at a local hospital as of posting time.

Col. Glenn Caballero, 34IB commander, said the soldiers were on board a motorcycle heading to the town proper when two gunmen aboard another motorbike opened fire on them.

The victims, who were in civilian clothing, fell from their motorbike on the roadside as the suspects sped off.

Police crime scene investigators found four .45-caliber empty shells at the ambush site.

Army and police intelligence officials are looking at the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) as possible perpetrators, pointing out that the 34IB was instrumental in the neutralization of several BIFF radicals in recent months. (PNA)