x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Mayor wounded and two dead in Philippines ambush

Communist guerrillas have wounded a town mayor and killed two of her aides in a pre-election ambush in the southern Philippines.

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines // Communist guerrillas wounded a town mayor and killed two of her aides in a pre-election ambush in the southern Philippines, police said yesterday.

Ruth Guingona, a member of the ruling Liberal Party and whose husband is a former vice president, was wounded in her arms and feet in late Saturday's attack on Mindanao island.

"Ms Guingona was with a police escort on their way back from attending a town fiesta when they were ambushed by New People's Army (NPA) rebels," said the national police spokesman, Generoso Cerbo.

The rebels fled after a 10-minute gunfight with the police, Mr Cerbo said. However, the mayor was safely retrieved only at dawn yesterday, hours after the attack, because the ambush site was in a remote area.

The mayor's son, the senator Teofisto Guingona, said his mother was in a stable condition.

He said his mother's convoy was blocked by NPA rebels armed with high-powered firearms as she made her way home before midnight.

"They had grenade launchers and they were able to flip over the vehicle carrying my mother," Mr Guingona said.

"She was wounded and trapped inside the vehicle. I am relieved that she is now safe and in stable condition," he said.

The police and the military launched a manhunt for the attackers, who also killed his mother's driver and an aide, and wounded one officer.

The attack came less than a month before local elections in May. NPA guerrillas often take advantage of election seasons to raise funds, by demanding protection money from candidates who want to campaign in areas under their control.

"We feel sorry about the incident, but Guingona was warned last week not to bring an armed security escort with her while on the campaign trail," said an NPA spokesman, George Madlos.