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12 killed, 9 hurt in Lanao ambush

6 more tagged hotspots as poll violence mounts Gunmen ambushed political campaigners for a Lanao del Norte town mayor, killing his daughter and 11 other supporters and relatives, police said Friday. The mayor and eight other people were wounded. Nunungan Mayor Abdul Malik Manamparan and his supporters were riding on a truck when they were ambushed Thursday night on a remote mountain road as they headed back to the town center following a campaign rally, said Lanao del Norte provincial police chief Gerardo Rosales. About 15 unidentified gunmen carried out the attack, Rosales said. Police investigators suspect the gunmen belong to a rival clan. Manamparan, whose term as mayor ends this year, is running for vice mayor in next month’s elections while his son is standing for mayor. They are running under the Nationalist People’s Coalition banner against candidates backed by President Benigno Aquino’s Liberal Party. Rosales said Manamparan’s 32-year-old daughter, Adnanie, and two relatives were among those killed. Two relatives, including a 15-year-old girl, were among the wounded. A police report said an officer serving as the mayor’s bodyguard was also wounded as he fought off the attackers with an M16 rifle before soldiers and policemen arrived. The Lanao del Norte deaths brought to more than 40 the number of people killed in election-related violence in the run-up to the May 13 polls. The province is not even in the Commission on Elections list of election hotspots where violence is expected to break out. “We’re coordinating with the police and the military whether to declare it area of concern, grave concern,” said Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes. He said the Comelec already placed six other areas under its control to prevent or lessen election-related violence there. He identified one of the six areas as Misamis Oriental, where an ambush on Mayor Ruthie Guingona of Gingoog City resulted in the death of two of her supporters. Asked about the recent upsurge in violence, Brillantes said the number of incidents was still 40 percent lower than the 2010 elections. Col. Rick Jalad, commander of the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, said he sent troops to hunt down the gunmen. In other election violence this week, two men riding on a motorcycle strafed the Toyota Revo of a barangay captain, Catherine Palabrica, 44, in Cavite in Gardenia Subdivision in Molino Town in Bacoor City. Palabrica survived but her companions, Bobby Palabrica and Reynaldo Premero died on arrival at the South Asian Medical Center in Molino town. In Occidental Mindoro, three Army soldiers were wounded during an encounter with communist rebels in Sitio Lagnas, Brgy batasan, San Jose town at about 3 p.m. Thursday, after responding to complaints of extortion by the New People’s Army. The three soldiers from the 76th Infantry Battalion were airlifted to the V. Luna Medical Center in Quezon for treatment. The Comelec has formed a special team to ensure peaceful and credible elections in provinces included in the priority watch list or areas of concern identified by the Department of the Interior and Local Government. The 15 provinces considered as high-risk areas in terms of political violence are Abra, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Cavite, Masbate, Samar, Misamis Occidental, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan. The commission also tapped the police and the military to place more than 800 municipalities under their areas of immediate concern in connection with the May 13 mid-term polls. Reports showed that at least 40 election-related violent incidents have been monitored since Oct. 1, 2012. Of those killed, 17 were incumbent officials, six were candidates and nine were government employees. Last year, the National Police reported the confiscation of 4, 976 loose firearms in separate police operations. The commission also deputized the police to look into, and prevent armed groups or private armies of candidates from committing crimes or terrorist acts during the election period. The police identified 52 active private armed groups with 913 members and 2,664 firearms. In 2009, 58 people, including 32 journalists, were massacred by alleged followers of a powerful Maguindanao clan in the country’s worst political violence. Last week, communist rebels ambushed the convoy of Gingoog City Mayor Ruth Guingona, wife of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, killing two of her aides and wounding her and a police escort. The New People’s Army apologized for harming the mayor and her party but said her bodyguards fired at a rebel checkpoint, prompting them to return fire. With Francisco Tuyay, Joel Zurbano, and The AP
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