At least one person has been killed, and around a dozen more wounded, after police opened fire on rice farmers, who were protesting in the Philippines.
Philippine police opened fire as a protest by thousands of rice farmers who lost their crops turned violent on Friday, killing one and wounding about a dozen, a leader of a farming group said.
About 6,000 farmers blocked a portion of the main highway in North Cotabato province on the southern island of Mindanao, demanding government assistance after drought linked by some to El Niño hit hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland.
“Loud bursts of gunfire erupted,” Norma Capuyan, leader of a farmers’ group, told reporters. “There was heavy volume of fire. We ran to a church compound and the police surrounded us.”
A farmer died on the spot and about a dozen others were wounded in the legs and shoulders, Capuyan said, adding the police first tried to disperse them with water cannon but started shooting when they held their ground.
North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza said about 20 police were wounded when the farmers attacked them with sticks and stones. She said the first shot was fired by the protesters.