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5 wounded in Cotabato City ambush

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Four companions of a barangay chairman here were hurt when gunmen opened fire at the van carrying them in an ambush at a busy thoroughfare in Barangay Bagua 3 here on Friday night.

Senior officials of the Cotabato City Police Office and the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region said on Saturday morning that the ambushers apparently targeted Edris Ayunan Pasawiran, chairman of Barangay Kalanganan 2 here.

Pasawiran survived the attack unscathed.

Col. Querubin Manalang Jr., director of the Cotabato City police, told reporters Pasawiran and his companions were together in a Toyota Grandia van when they were attacked in Mabini Street in Barangay Bagua 3, while on their way to somewhere.

Four of Pasawiran’s companions, Michael Avila, Akmad Guimba, Amal Masulot and Tanto Palulod, who sustained bullet wounds in different parts of their bodies, were rushed by emergency responders to the Cotabato Regional Medical Center for treatment.

Police forensic experts had collected dozens of empty ammunition shells scattered near their bullet-riddled vehicle.

Radio reports here on Saturday morning stated that a fifth unidentified victim, who was slightly wounded in the incident, was brought to the Cotabato Sanitarium Hospital in nearby Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao del Norte.

Manalang said investigators and intelligence operatives are together trying to put a closure to the incident with the help of barangay officials.

Policemen and barangay leaders found about an hour after the incident the vehicle of the ambushers, a silver Suzuki minivan, in Barangay Rosary Heights 3 here.

Police investigators reportedly found a .45 caliber pistol inside the minivan.