A member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and four civilians were killed when an armed group stormed a village in Zamboanga del Norte on Friday night, a police official said.
Senior Superintendent Michael Macapagal, director of the Zamboanga del Norte Provincial Police, told Super Radyo dzBB in an interview on Saturday that the encounter occurred at 6 p.m. in a remote area of Barangay Piacan in the municipality of Sirawai.
A government troop detachment near the area monitored the arrival of five armed men wearing camouflage uniforms aboard a double engine pumpboat, he said.
A firefight ensued between the armed men and government forces from the Philippine National Police's police mobile force and regional mobile force and the Armed Forces of the Philippines' 42nd Infantry Battalion.
In the midst of exchange of gunfire, a CAFGU member and four civilians were killed, while two other civilians were wounded, Macapagal said.
Meanwhile, a report on "GMA News TV Live" said the four people killed in the encounter were trying to rescue a certain couple named Ellen and Rocco Rhoda who were targets of the suspects.
Rocco was a former CAFGU Active Auxiliaries (CAA) and was based at Piacan Patrol Base.
The armed men allegedly entered the house of the couple in Barangay Piacan for a kidnapping mission.
Some neighbors and one CAFGU member attempted to rescue the victims, but four were killed in the encounter and one is injured.
In the dzBB interview, Macapagal said they have not yet identified what group was involved, but a hot pursuit operation was immediately launched.
The armed men, however, withdrew toward the high seas, Macapagal said.
Investigation is ongoing as to the group's motive, he added.
Macapagal said the area of attack was dark, far-flung, remote, and could only be reached by boat.
He added that there are government troops in the area but the armed group took advantage of the darkness to move. —KG/LBG, GMA News