DIPOLOG CITY, Zamboanga del Norte – The vice mayor of Baliguian town, his police escort, and a civilian were killed in an ambush on the highway in Siocon town at around 11:20 a.m. Saturday, police said.
In an initial report, the Siocon Municipal Police Station identified the fatalities as Vice Mayor Gani Esmali of Baliguian, police escort Patrolman Godelito Corbita Bongcac, and Jaymalin Jalabi Tunggal.
Their fourth companion, Abduladjid Ibno Bairula, is in critical condition at a hospital, said Maj. Edison Alviar, Siocon police chief.
Alviar said Esmali and his companions were traveling from Baliguian to Siocon on board a sports utility vehicle when ambushed by about five men armed with high-power firearms.
He said the suspects fled back toward Baliguian on board a gray Toyota Hilux.
Recovered from the ambush site were 49 cartridges of M-16 Armalite rifle and an aluminum magazine loaded with 18 M-16 bullets.
Siocon and Baliguian, located in the third district of the province, border the Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga City, are areas that police identify favorite hideouts of armed groups, including kidnap-for-ransom gangs and terrorists.
Aside from the military and the police, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) maintain fighters in these areas. Gualberto Laput /PNA – northboundasia.com