Lawmaker hurt, aides killed in ambush

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: Unidentified gunmen opened fire on the convoy of a lawmaker, killing four people and injuring three others in Misamis Oriental on Thursday.

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Officials reported that among those injured in the attack was Rep. Vicente Belmonte Jr. of Iligan who was ambushed along a highway in Laguin-dingan town.

Philippine National Police spokesperson, Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, cited that the incident took place at around 1:45 p.m. at Purok 8, Poblacion, in the said town.

Initial police investigation indicated that Belmonte was on his way to the highway from the Laguindingan Airport when waylaid by armed men. The lawmaker’s vehicle was then leading a convoy.

A police report said that one of Belmonte’s bodyguards was killed on the spot, while two of the six who were wounded died in a nearby provincial hospital in Alubijid, a neighboring town of Laguindingan.

Belmonte was reportedly among the six who were brought to the Alubijid hospital. The names of the wounded and the fatalities were not immediately available.

Two armored vehicles from the 2nd Mechanized Infantry of the Philippine Army were dispatched to rescue Belmonte’s group after the ambush.

The motive of the attack is still unknown, but the politician is reportedly eyeing the mayoralty post in Iligan City in the 2016 elections.

Earlier, gunmen also ambushed the convoy of a former town mayor and two of his aides in Guindulungan town in Maguindanao.

On Wednesday, unidentified gunmen opened fire on the vehicles of Akmad Ampatuan, former mayor of Datu Salibo town in Maguindanao and father of acting Shariff Aguak Mayor Maroph Ampatuan, according to Maj. Jo Ann Petinglay, a spokesperson of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

Ampatuan’s convoy was heading to Shariff Aguak when gunmen attacked the politician’s vehicle.

“The ex-mayor was slightly wounded in the hand and brought to the hospital in Shariff Aguak town,” Petinglay told The Manila Times in a telephone interview.

 PNA

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