MARAWI CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – A stray bullet fatally hit a regional government employee visiting Marawi City and wounded his companion on Thursday morning, September 7, prompting the militry to reimpose restrictions on access to the city.
Marvin Ablando was in the vicinity of the front gate of the Mindanao State University (MSU) when he was hit by a .50 caliber bullet, according to local government spokesman Zia Alonto Adiong.
The Cotabato-based employee of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) was 44.
The same bullet first grazed his female companion, fellow CSC employee Sandrah Usman. She reportedly suffered minor wounds. They were brought to the Amai Pakpak Medical Center, where Ablando died.
Adiong said the incident shows how they cannot rush the return of residents to Marawi City while the war continues to rage.
"We request all our residents, especially those who have been persistent in their clamor to come back, [to wait]. Even in the controlled areas, there are still issues of stray bullets hitting civilians," Adiong said.
"We are trying to monitor the condition in the MBA (main battle area). Until such time that the security sector can guarantee that there won't be any stray bullets, we cannot allow residents to come back," he added.
The MSU compound is a residential area that is considered a "safe zone." Thousands of students returned to the city last month.
Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Task Force Ranao, said the military has rerouted traffic from the front gate of MSU to the back and suspended home visitation privileges.
Brawner said they met with MSU officials to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and employees. They also asked the police to investigate.
It's the latest incident of stray bullets hitting civilians outside the battle zone in Marawi City. Another resident inside the MSU campus was hit last week and suffered serious injuries. – Rappler.com