Motorcyclists gunned down

GUNMEN blocked a group of motorcycle riders and then opened fire with assault rifles in a busy downtown area, killing nine people, police said, in the latest violence to roil the volatile region.

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

Most of the victims in Saturday’s attack apparently did not know each other and were travelling 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 likely isn’t terrorism. We’re looking at the angle of a local feud, a personal grudge,” Parcon said.

The proliferation of unlicensed firearms and other weapons, weak law enforcement in rural areas and the presence of insurgent groups and clans with private armies have fostered violence in the heartland of the southern Philippines and outlying island provinces. — AP

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