COTABATO CITY, Philippines ? (UPDATE 2) Suspected followers of the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao ambushed a military and police convoy Thursday night as it headed for General Santos City with evidence in the Nov. 23 massacre that the authorities collected in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, police said.
Senior Supt. Willie Dangane, Cotabato City police director and deputy Task Force 12 Alpha, was on board a Toyota Altis police car with evidence recovered from the mansion of Andal Ampatuan Sr. in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao?s provincial capital, when three men standing at a road side opened fire with M-16 rifles at about 8 p.m.
With Dangane in the car was Chief Supt. Felicisimo Khu, chief of the Central Mindanao police. Neither official was hurt in the firing.
Dangane said he thought the three men were ordinary civilians standing at the road side in Barangay Labo-Labo, Ampatuan, Maguindanao, and appeared to be about to cross the street as his vehicle passed.
"We heard gun bursts and something hard landed on our car," Dangane said in a phone interview. Dangane and Khu?s car sustained bullet holes.
Dangane said their escorts returned fire as the vehicle continued to move with its headlights turned off.
Nobody in the convoy was hurt in the incident.
Dangane said he believed the gunmen belonged to private armies involved in the Nov. 23 massacre.
Soldiers from the 73rd Infantry Battalion responded by sending troops ? backed by armored personnel carriers ? after the gunmen.
Dangane's patrol car was escorted by two Simba armored vehicles and soldiers going to Isulan, Sultan Kudarat en route to Gen. Santos City.
Bursts of gunfire were heard a few meters from an Army checkpoint where journalists were being held by soldiers following the shooting.
At least 100 soldiers were deployed in the area.
Maj. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the convoy came from Shariff Aguak where Khu supervised the search for weapons stashed by the Ampatuans. With reports from Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao; and Marlon Ramos, Philippine Daily Inquirer