5 killed in North Cotabato shootout

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Photo: Western Mindanao Command

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 6) — Five people including the son of a former Maguindanao governor were killed in a firefight that erupted at a military checkpoint in North Cotabato, officials said Saturday.

Maj. Arvin Encinas, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command, said an SUV sped through a checkpoint in Pikit around 9 p.m. Friday, which led troops at the checkpoint to alert the adjacent checkpoint in Barangay Inug-ug of the incident.

The passengers of the SUV opened fire at the troops as they were being stopped at the checkpoint in Barangay Inug-ug, Encinas added,

He said among the five killed was Hassem Matalam, son of the late Maguidanao Governor Norodin Matalam, who also served as mayor of Pagalungan town.

Matalam's body has been claimed by his family.

Among the items recovered from the crime scene were several high-powered firearms, live ammunition, a fragmentation grenade, sachets of suspected shabu, and and ₱15,900 cash.

The incident took place amid the military intensified drive against loose firearms and clan wars or rido in Mindanao.

Encinas said the fatalities were believed to be "lawless elements" involved in rido.

Stringer Dennis Arcon contributed to this story.