At least 10 people, reportedly a mayor and his nine bodyguards, have been killed, following a shootout, in the Philippines.
A mayor on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s wanted list for alleged drugs links was killed along with nine of his guards in a shootout on Friday, police said, as a new phase of a bloody narcotics crackdown zeroed-in on high profile targets.
The 10 men succumbed to their wounds en route to hospital, police said, having opened fire on officers who tried to stop their two vehicles at a checkpoint in Duterte’s troubled home province of Mindanao before dawn.
“It was a legitimate police operation,” said Bernard Tayong of the North Cotabato police office, adding that no officers were hurt but a police vehicle was riddled with bullets.
“We have information the mayor and his men were transporting drugs so we tried to intercept them but they chose to shoot it out,” he told reporters.
The killing of Samsudin Dimaukom, a powerful mayor, took place far from his predominantly Muslim town of Datu Saudi Ampatuan.
It came as police shift tactics in the controversial war on drugs by focusing on politicians, government officials, celebrities and high-ranking army and police suspected of involvement in the trade.