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12 dead in Philippines ambush ahead of vote

Update: April, 26/2013 - 11:42

ILIGAN, Philippines – Twelve people were killed in an ambush on a Philippines mayor, officials said on Friday, in the deadliest of a string of violent incidents that have marred the campaign for May elections.

Gunmen opened fire on a truck carrying Mayor Abdulmalik Manamparan and his supporters on southern Mindanao island late on Thursday, local military commander Colonel Ricardo Jalad said, adding that several victims were relatives of the mayor.

"They killed my granddaughter," Manamparan said from his hospital bed, where the 62-year-old official was being treated for a shrapnel wound that grazed his head. Another seven people were injured in the attack.

The ambush on a remote mountain road near Nunungan town, unleashed 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 on 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 said 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. AFP

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