COTABATO, Philippines, April 26 (6th UPDATE) – Gunmen ambushed the convoy of a Lanao del Norte mayor Thursday night, April 25, killing at least 13 — including the mayor’s daughter and granddaughter — and wounding 10 others, police and military officials said.
“They killed my granddaughter,” Manamparan told AFP from his hospital bed, where the 62-year-old official was being treated for a shrapnel wound that grazed his head. Another 10 people were injured in the attack.
Local military commander Col Ricardo Jalad said a daughter of the mayor was also among the dozen people killed, though the wounded official was apparently unaware of this.
Police initially put the death toll at 12, with at least eight wounded, but Senior Supt Gerardo Rosales, chief of the Lanao del Norte province, later updated the figures on television. The 12 died on the spot while another died later, he said.
The ambush on a remote mountain road near Nunungan town — staged as the mayor and his party travelled home from a campaign event — was the latest episode of political violence in the Philippines which will hold elections on May 13.
A running police tally lists 30 deaths from 45 other violent incidents reported since the start of the campaign in February.
In November 2009, members of a powerful clan in Mindanao abducted and murdered 58 people, including relatives of a local rival who was planning to challenge the clan leader in gubernatorial elections the following year.
Manamparan, of the opposition Nationalist People’s Coalition party, is the mayor of the mainly Muslim town of Nunungan. He told AFP he had a good idea who was responsible for the attack, but declined to discuss his suspicions.
The predominantly Muslim areas of Mindanao have a reputation for deadly clan wars, sometimes lasting generations. The island is also wracked by insurgencies waged by Muslim and communist rebels.
Manamparan is standing for the lower post of vice-mayor, with his son and namesake running for mayor. The candidate-son was not among the casualties..
Provincial police commander Senior Supt Gerardo Rosales said Manamparan disclosed to them the identities of the perpetrators but refused to divulge further information.
Rosales said all possible exit points in the town have been sealed off. “We have launched a wide manhunt operation against the attackers. We alerted our policemen and military,” he said.
Nine of the 13 fatalities were identified as Saidon Mamantoc, 48; Andani Manamparan, 30; Baubi Kawasa, 20; Johani Mundi Bantuas, 20; Pita Saripada, 17; Leonor Mamantoc, 17; Bebe Dimasangkay, 16; Lala Diamran and Agka Nobaisa.
Those wounded and who are confined in a hospital in Iligan City are Mayor Manamparan; Wilfredo Viga, 45; Nubaila Ansur, 18; PO1 Frenil Lagoting; Iman Manamparan, 18; Semi Muda, 18; Mira Labi, 17; Nauman Ali, 16; and Asisa Labi, 15.