Gunmen kill nine motorcyclists in southern Philippines


MANILA, Philippines, Aug 31 (AP) - Gunmen blocked a group of motorcycle riders then opened fire with assault rifles in a busy downtown area in the southern Philippines, killing nine people, police said Sunday, in the latest violence to roil the volatile region.

Police officials said the attack on the victims, who were mostly farmers, at noon Saturday in Kabacan town in Cotabato province may have been sparked by a local feud and was likely not an act of terrorism.

Cotabato lies in a poverty-wracked region where a decades-long Muslim separatist insurgency has eased largely due to a 2014 peace deal between the Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group and the government, although small armed groups aligned with the Islamic State group still pose a threat.

Most of the victims in Saturday's attack apparently did not know each other and were traveling on six motorcycles, some in tandems, when they were blocked by six to eight gunmen and ordered to alight. After getting off their motorcycles in the middle of the road, they were shot at least 39 times with rifles and pistols, police investigator Delir Parcon said by phone.

Eight of the victims were killed instantly and another died in a hospital, a police report said. The gunmen fled in a van. Police have interviewed witnesses and were looking for possible security camera footage that could help identify the attackers, police officials said.

"This isn’t likely terrorism,” Parcon said. "We’re looking at the angle of a local feud, a personal grudge.”

Former Muslim guerrillas who forged an autonomy deal with the government and are now overseeing a nearby Muslim autonomy region said they would help investigate the killings of the men, who were all Muslims.

"Such senseless violent acts have no place in a progressive society, especially at a time when people are in the grip of a pandemic,” they said in a statement.

The proliferation of large numbers of unlicensed firearms and other weapons, weak law enforcement in many rural areas and the presence of insurgent groups and powerful clans with private armies have combined to foster violence in the heartland of the southern Philippines and outlying island provinces. The region is the homeland of minority Muslims in the largely Roman Catholic nation.

Last Monday, two militant women detonated powerful bombs in separate suicide attacks that killed 15 people, including eight soldiers and a police commando, and wounded more than 70 others in southern Jolo town in Sulu province in the worst extremist attack in the country so far this year.

President Rodrigo Duterte flew to Jolo on Sunday under heavy security to meet the blast victims and their families.

The military blamed an Abu Sayyaf extremist commander, Mundi Sawadjaan, for plotting the midday suicide bombings, which also killed the two attackers. The attackers were local widows of Abu Sayyaf militants, according to the military, in what could be the first known suicide attacks by Filipino women extremists if their identities can be confirmed.

Army scout rangers battled about 30 Abu Sayyaf militants Saturday in the mountain jungles off Sulu’s Patikul town in clashes that killed a soldier and wounded seven others. Sawadjaan was believed to be with the militants but was not among the two who were killed in the fighting, regional military commander Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan told reporters. - AP
Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 18
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Did you find this article insightful?

Yes
No

Next In Aseanplus News

China halts operation at Korean chip plant after worker tests positive for Covid-19 (update)
Covid-19 test mandatory before crossing into India's northern state Uttarakhand
Vietnam inflation cools in November to slowest this year
China makes final effort to court Japan and South Korea as Donald Trump heads for the exit
Suga adviser says Japan needs another US$384bil in stimulus
China to issue commemorative coins for Beijing 2022 Games
S. Korea bans year-end parties, some music lessons, as virus spikes again
Zafrul: My focus is on country's economic recovery, not politics
Fugitive Philippine rebel chiefs convicted of kidnapping
Indonesian volcano belches huge tower of smoke and ash; triggers flight warning (update)

Stories You'll Enjoy