SECURING THE CIVILIANS. Police and soldiers respond to ensure civilians are spared from warring families engaged in a shooting war in Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur, on Wednesday (March 29, 2023). The warring families are members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front locked in an apparent land conflict. (Photo courtesy of Ampatuan town resident Morshid Dalamban)

COTABATO CITY – Three gunmen were killed after clashes involving warring families broke out in Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur, a police official said Thursday.

In an interview, Capt. Giuseppe Tamayo, Ampatuan municipal police chief, said the clashes erupted on Tuesday night and continued until about 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

The warring families belonged to Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) base commands locked in a long-standing feud over territorial control of vast tracts of land in Barangay Kapinpilan, Ampatuan town, Tamayo said.

“The protagonists in this fighting are members of the MILF’s 118th and 105th base commands,” Tamayo said. “As I speak, they are still firing sporadically at each other although from a distance.”

As a result, about 100 families have fled to safer grounds and are temporarily housed at the municipal gymnasium.

Tamayo said efforts by MILF officials are underway to prevent the escalation of hostilities among its members in the area. (PNA)