EX-GOV CANDAO'S BROTHER ASSASSINATED

Cotabato City, Feb. 3, 2003 - Motorcycle gunmen on Monday attacked and killed a brother of a formergovernor of the Muslim autonomous regionin the southern Philippines, officials said.

Major Julieto Ando, spokesman of the Army's 6th Infantry Division, said the gunmen opened fire on the van carrying Peping Candao, killing him instantly and wounding one of hischild, in an ambush in Cotabato City in Maguindanao province.

"We still don't know the motives of the attack, but we have alerted troops in the province," Ando said.

Ando said Candao,a brother of ex-governor Zacarias Candao, was on his way to school to bring his child when the attack occured. "The child was wounded in the attack," he said.

No group claimed responsibility for the ambush, but the province is a known lair of the separatist Muslim rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Last month, guerrillas detonated a bomb outside the house of a town mayor in Datu Paglas in Maguindano province killing a dozen people, including the official.

A family member of the powerful Candao clan said the killing of Peping Candao was politically motivated.

Bai Maleiha Candao, the victim's niece, said: "This is a politically-motivated murder. We have suspects already, who claimed to have strong connection with government people, but we cannot identify them."

Shealso appealed to Justice Sec. Simeon Datumanong toresolve the killing immediately. Police and military fear the slaying of Candao would trigger a bloody retaliation." (Al Jacinto, PHNO Mindanao Bureau)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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