Philippine Authorities hunt armed men who kill police chief, 7 villagers

Authorities on Tuesday hunted for armed men who killed a police chief and seven villagers in a road ambush in the southern Philippines believed linked to a long-running family feud, an official said.

Three police units and a marine contingent pursued about 10 men suspected of firing automatic rifles Monday at a van and pickup truck carrying the police chief, other policemen and villagers in the town of Mabalang in southern Lanao del Sur province, provincial police chief Senior Supt. Amerrudin Hamdag said.

Killed in the attack were the police chief, Kurais Tampogao, and seven villagers, Hamdag said.

"This is a result of a longtime feud that started sometime in 1993," Hamdag said in a telephone interview.

He said investigators were interviewing victims and were expected to prepare charges against members of a rival family, whom he did not name.

Tampogao's wife and a policeman traveling with him were injured in the attack, he said.

Tampogao, who headed the police force in the province's town of Tubaran, was traveling back to his office after attending the graduation of pro-government militiamen in a nearby town when his convoy came under attack, he said.

Those who died with him were mostly villagers and unarmed militiamen who hitched a ride on his convoy, Hamdag said.

A number of policemen with Tampogao managed to fire back but were overwhelmed by the attackers, who quickly withdrew, he added.

Retaliatory killings, locally known as "rido," are common in many areas of the southern Philippines, which swarms with unlicensed guns and lacks enough police, reports the AP. I.L.

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