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Gunmen kill 9 police, villagers in Philippines

By Jim Gomez

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 03:43 a.m. HST, Jan 27, 2013

MANILA » Gunmen hiding in a sugarcane field ambushed a truckload of policemen and village guards who had provided security for a village festival, killing nine and wounding nine others today in the central Philippines, officials said.

About 20 gunmen raked the victims' truck with automatic weapon fire before dawn in the foothills of Mount Kanlaon in Negros Occidental province, firing nearly 300 rounds of ammunition. One police officer was among those killed and two others were wounded, provincial police Chief Celestino Guara said.

Eight other people, mostly village guards, were killed, including two women, who hitched a ride on the truck. Seven other villagers were wounded. They had joined the police in helping protect the festival late Saturday and were traveling back to a police station when they were attacked, police said.

"Our policemen managed to return fire but there were just too many gunmen firing away," Guara said by cellphone from the scene of the attack.

Road checkpoints were set up and government troops launched a hunt for the attackers in Negros Occidental, a poor, sugar-producing province about 470 kilometers (280 miles) southeast of Manila.

Police said the attackers may have been communist New People's Army guerrillas. "Before withdrawing, the gunmen yelled, 'Long live the New People's Army,'" Guara said.

One of the three police officers in the truck had received death threats over a land dispute, and his adversaries may have enlisted the help of the Maoist guerrillas to go after him, Guara said.

However, army brigade commander Col. Oscar Lactao said the attackers may have been members of an illegal logging group. A forest ranger was killed by suspected illegal loggers in the area last year, he said.

The killings are the latest in a flurry of gun violence that has revived calls for tighter gun controls. The country has long grappled with communist and Muslim insurgencies, crime, and armed groups controlled by politicians, warlords and powerful families.

Police estimate there are more than half a million unlicensed firearms in the country, down from more than a million a few years ago.

Today's attack occurred despite a national 150-day ban on the carrying of firearms outside residences imposed by election officials to prevent violence ahead of congressional and local elections on May 13.

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hikine wrote:
This probably happened because of corruption within the system. It's usually a power struggle between powerful rich people who wants total control of the area and will do anything to get it.
on January 27,2013 | 03:28AM
1local wrote:
america would disarm the police and citizens as a solution. Only criminals and law breakers would posess firearms. Just imagine where America would be if the British had disarmed the colonists - If Kamehameha 1 had not been supplied with firearms...
on January 27,2013 | 07:56AM
koolau wrote:
Another example of the ineffectiveness of banning weapons. Government imoses gun control laws which bad guys laugh at, leaving good guys without self protection. That's apparently the direction our country is going in.
on January 27,2013 | 06:32AM
islandsun wrote:
Just like here, all the politicians there at the local level are corrupt.
on January 27,2013 | 11:17AM
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