Gunmen kill 5 people in southern Philippines

Unidentified gunmen killed at least five civilians including an infant on the Philippines' insurgency-wracked southern island of Jolo, a military spokesman said. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, said Col. Domingo Tutaan, spokesman for the military's Southern Command. Jennifer Fontanilla, who said she survived the attack by hiding under her bed, told government-run Radyo ng Bayan that before the shooting, the armed men roused them from sleep and demanded to know if they were Christians or Muslims.

At least one of the dead is believed to be a Muslim woman married to a Christian, she said. Others included an infant, about 7 or 8 months old, she said, adding the attack left six dead, including her father.

Tutaan said four other people were wounded in the attack on three families in Patikul town, about 940 kilometers (585 miles) south of the capital, Manila. "All the angles are being looked at. We cannot yet make any conclusions," Tutaan said by telephone from Jolo.

He said a land dispute or family feud may have played a role. Restive Jolo island is a stronghold of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf rebels, notorious for kidnappings and bombings. It is generally considered a lawless area, where unlicensed firearms are easy to obtain.

The killings took place a week after attackers fired assault rifles at a packed billiard hall in nearby Mindanao island in an assault apparently meant to avenge the slaying of one attacker's son, reports the AP.

I.L.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team