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Four people killed in school attack in Zamboanga

October 22, 2010 3:29pm
UPDATED 5:00 p.m. — Three people, including a teacher and an elementary student, were stabbed dead by a convicted rapist who ran amok and took over two classrooms in an elementary school in Zamboanga City early Friday afternoon.

Six other people were hurt in the attack and the attacker himself was mauled to death by the villagers.

Senior Superintendent Edwin de Ocampo, chief of the Zamboanga City police, said attacker Seli Mateo, allegedly a deranged man, stormed into a classroom of Grade 6 pupils at the Talisayan Elementary School and held everyone hostage at about 1:45 p.m.

"Basta pumasok na lang siya sa classroom at pinagsasaksak ang mga tao doon [He just entered the classroom and stabbed people inside]," De Ocampo told GMANews.TV over the phone.

Those killed in the incident were Grade 6 teacher Lorna Pulalon; Grade 6 pupil Ces Orpiano; and Ruben Flores, a grandfather who accompanied his grandchild to school.

"Iyong lolo, alam mo na, lalaki kaya ang initial reaction, siya kaagad ang lumaban para pigilan iyong si Mateo [It was the grandfather's instinct, being a man, to stop the attacker]," said De Ocampo.

In a separate interview on radio dzBB, Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat said Mateo used a "kitchen knife" to threaten the students and stab his victims.

From the Grade 6 classroom, Mateo proceeded to another classroom filled with Grade 2 pupils, where he continued his attack.

Two teachers and four Grade 2 pupils ended up hurt. They were rushed to the Brent Hospital for treatment.

The police chief said even before policemen responded to the area, villagers and village officials from a nearby residential area - upon learning about the attack - mauled Mateo, who died on the spot.

Asked what Mateo's motive could have been for attacking the people in the school, De Ocampo said, "Sabi ng mga taga-rito, kulang-kulang daw ang pag-iisip niya [Villagers here said the man had a mental problem]."

A convicted criminal, Mateo, a native of Negros Oriental, was sent behind bars for rape in 1981. After serving his sentence, he was released in 2008.

"Pagkalaya niya, hindi na sya bumalik sa Negros Oriental. Dito na lang siya sa Zamboanga, paikut-ikot," De Ocampo said, adding that Mateo had no relatives in the city.

The police official also clarified that there was no jail break and that the incident should not be considered "hostage-taking."

Despite the incident, De Ocampo said school operations have already gone back to normal and that school officials have no plans of suspending classes in the coming days. — Mark Dalan Merueñas, RSJ/VVP, GMANews.TV
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