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UNICEF worker murdered in Philippines

A UNICEF worker is shot dead in a part of the southern Philippines close to where a political massacre occurred earlier this week.

PHILLIPINES // A local UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) worker was shot dead in a lawless part of the southern Philippines close to where a political massacre occurred this week, police said today. An unidentified gunman shot Nestor Bulahan at a bus terminal in Parang town, Maguindanao province, on Thursday morning, said regional police spokesman Superintendent Sigfried Ramos. Bulahan died in hospital a short time later, he added.

Parang is 45 kilometres from Ampatuan, a town where gunmen allegedly under the orders of a local politician abducted and killed at least 57 people on Monday. Police gave no details to indicate Bulahan's murder was linked to the massacre. "We do not know the motive yet," Ramos said. However it occurred after the Filipino president Gloria Arroyo placed Maguindanao and nearby Cotabato city under a state of emergency following the massacre.

Authorities had insisted emergency rule, plus an influx of thousands of troops, had brought the area under control. UNICEF released a short statement today confirming an employee had been shot but giving few details other than that the incident was not believed to be linked to his work. "A UNICEF staff member was shot yesterday. We cannot confirm his identity or current state," UNICEF spokeswoman in the Philippines Angela Travis said in the statement.

"He was not on official duty when the incident happened and the incident is believed to be personal." Ramos said Bulahan was shot in his stomach while riding a tricycle to meet a friend. * AFP