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Ulama seek justice for Arab sheiks in Zamboanga incident

Marawi City, Lanao del Sur
March 10, 2016

Hundreds of locals joined religious leaders in a Peace Rally they held at Plaza Cabili, this city on Thursday, March 10 expressing indignation over the assassination attempt against a Saudi cleric and a Saudi diplomat in Zamboanga City last March 1.

The rallyists asked the government to immediately conduct thorough investigation on the assassination attempt said to be penetrated by a lone gunman.

Posters and placards said the protection and security of these prominent diplmoats is the responsibility of the Philippine government.

Saudi preacher Aaidh Al-Qarni and Sheikh Turki Assaegh, a religious attaché of the Saudi embassy in Manila were attacked as they were to leave from a lecture in Western Mindanao State University (WMSU).

A video footage uploaded on Facebook showed how the suspect opened fire on Al-Qarni and Assaegh.

The gunman clad in a hooded jacket emerged from the crowd among the well-wishers of the two sheiks who were about to leave WMSU in their utility service vehicle.

The suspect later on identified as 21-year-old Rugasan Kiliste Misuari III was shot dead by police escorts.

Reports had it that the gunman had two suspected accomplices named Mujer Milasan Abubakar, 31, of Khamis Sta. Barbara and Junaide Cadiry Saleh, 36, of Barangay Taguiti.

Media reports revealed the incident happened around 8:30 p.m. outside the gymnasium of the university along Normal Road in Barangay Baliwasan, two kilometers away from the city proper.

Police said Al-Qarni and Assaegh visited the city for a two-day symposium and Islamic lecture upon invitation by the Ulama Council.

The video showed some of the well-wishers taking selfies with Al-Qarni from the window of the service vehicle when Misuari fired three times his caliber .45 pistol. through the window of the driver’s side.

Reports suspected that the person who took the video appeared to be calm even if the gunman passed in front while cocking his handgun and opened fire at the victims.

It seemed the video tried to avoid showing the face of the suspect who transited in front while going to the other side of the target vehicle.

The suspect was later seen lying dead on the ground next to the vehicle.

Superintendent Luisito Magnaye, acting Zamboanga City Police Office director, said they were investigating the footage.

“The video confirmed and showed that the suspect was the same guy that was neutralized,” Magnaye said.

Magnaye added that they would try to talk to the suspect’s friends and relatives to determine the motive for the assassination attempt.

According to Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, they have organized a Special Investigation Task Group Al-Qarni to dig deeper into the incident.

Samiento arrived late Wednesday here from Sulu after he was instructed by President Benigno Aquino III to personally look into the incident.

Sarmiento and Magnaye said they still could not confirm if the incident is related to the Islamic State though it has been known that Al-Qarni is among the listed targets of militants.

Meanwhile, it is reported that the tcleric and the diplomat have recuperated and safe.

The New Ranao Star
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