5 hurt as rival gunmen clash amid Philippine village polls: military

17:33, October 25, 2010      

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Five people were hurt when two groups of gunmen clashed early Monday morning as polling centers opened for the village elections in southern Philippines, the military said.

The incident happened at a village in Sumisip town, in the restive island province of Basilan when armed men from a "rebel lost command" led by a certain commander Asnawi fought against a band of Abu Sayyaf gunmen under Malangka Malista after voters began flocking polling precincts past 7 a.m., Brigadier General Eugenio Clemen, commander of a Marine brigade based in the western city of Zamboanga said.

Clemen told local radio the incident stemmed from a political feud between the two groups as they have relatives who are running in Monday's polls.

"Many civilians were afraid to go to the polling centers to vote due to the situation. The military is stepping in to diffuse tensions," the military official said, adding harassment and coercions to voters by politicians were also reported in the towns of Albarka, Sumisip and Tuburan.

The military official assured government troops are still on top of the situation and that enough security was being provided to protect the voters and the ballots.

Clemen also reported the alleged attempt of the followers of a local mayor to seize the ballot boxes in Albarka town, but soldiers prevented his group and provided security for the boxes.

Millions of Filipinos turned out to vote on Monday in 42,000 villages across the country to elect officials who will administer the country's smallest administrative unit.

Source: Xinhua


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