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Thursday, February 22, 2024

‘Christians, Muslims vs terror’

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COTABATO CITY”•Residents and officials see civilian defense strength in a scenario in which Muslims and Christians thwart any attempts by terrorists to put the city under siege.

It is like a situation repeated from the stories of cooperation between Muslims and Christians during World War II, according to an octogenarian.   

On an unusual people’s address on Thursday, City Mayor Cynthia Guani-Sayadi asked officials and residents of 37 villages to turn themselves into an internal security force to thwart  terrorists.

Authorities earlier heightened security alerts amid reports of sightings of extremists in at least three villages here. 

Guiani-Sayadi says the city has a good number of residents with valid permits-to-carry firearms to lead or be part of a community defense and, in effect, beefing up Barangay Patrol Auxiliary Teams  and the Cotabato Task Force of regular Army officers and personnel.

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“Cotabato’s history of a unified Muslim-Christian resistance force against a common enemy in World War II could be repeated,” said 82-year-old Butil Ali, a retired boat captain.

Earlier, residents of Barangay Rosary Heights 10 were awakened by shouts of “God is Great!” in Arabic by men in white aboard a cargo truck.

On social media, Muslim residents promptly alerted the community of the early morning sighting on Monday. They added, however, that some of the men were seen smoking while shouting “Allahu Akbar!,” which Muslims do not do during the fasting days of Ramadan.

Bhoy Enderez Ismael, one of the barangay officials said: “It is our shared responsibility to help and protect one another. The Almighty Creator is always with those who aspire for greater good.” 

“If only they [the men] were in the company of Muslims or local Christians, they could have been told that even smokers among Muslims do not smoke on a Ramadan morning. That showed they were impostors,” said Amakandi Uday, a government employee.

“Two or three of them alighted and urinated like dogs on a roadside wall of one of the houses [along Pansacala Street] while smoking,” resident Bai Ali Cubato said of the men. She added that Muslims do not normally do that.  

Again, on Thursday, residents received reports that Isis-inspired armed men in black had plotted to enter the city through two adjacent communities, the Notre Dame Village and Zenaida Subdivision, which is right next to the government facilities complex of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

On Wednesday night, state security forces kept a tight watch on the gates of the ARMM complex of government offices, causing heavy traffic along Governor Dionisio Gutierrez Avenue. 

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