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ILIGAN CITY – Motorcycle gunmen killed a village chieftain and wounded 2 others in an attack in the restive city of Marawi in the southern Philippine province of Lanao del Sur.

Police said the attack late Thursday killed Aminoden Awar, of East Basak village. His wounded companions, a policeman and a security guard at the Mindanao State University, were rushed to hospital and their condition is unclear.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the killing, but Chief Inspector Parson Asadil, the local police chief, said they are still investigating the motive of the attack.  The gunmen were armed with automatic rifles and escaped after the killing.

The attack occurred two days after unidentified gunmen also killed two army soldiers – Sergeant John Saballe and Private First Class Sofronio Grame, Jr – both members of the 65th Infantry Battalion – outside Ranao Broadcasting Corporation near the Masjid Islamic Center in Marawi City. A woman near the scene was also shot and wounded in the shooting.

It was unknown if the latest killing was connected to the cold-blooded murder of the soldiers who were assisting in the probe on the ambush of a television news crew in Marawi City on December 26.

Army Colonel Roseller Murillo, commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, said the killings of his soldiers were in retaliation by a local group engaged in illegal activities that was hit hard by the army in its anti-criminality campaign in support to peace efforts in Marawi.

Murillo said the soldiers were on an official mission in Marawi City in connection to the ongoing investigation into the attack on the news team of ABS-CBN. He said the soldiers were supposed to meet an informant. It was unknown if the attack was caught on security cameras outside the Ranao Broadcasting Corporation.

Police have filed criminal charges against two men – Nasser Masurong and Yusop Sangcad – tagged as among those behind the December 26 attack on ABS-CBN reporter Ronnie Enderes and his team Emilito Balansag and Gary Montecillo.

Both men have been identified by witnesses. The news crew was travelling on a pick-up truck from Ditsa-an Ramain town when four gunmen on two motorcycles opened fire on their vehicle.

It was unknown whether Masurong and Sangcad were involved in the killings of the two soldiers, but they remain at large. The National Bureau of Investigations said they were sympathizers of radical groups in Marawi supporting ISIS. (Moh Saaduddin)

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