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Philippine man shoots 8 villagers

A man with domestic problems fatally shot eight people, including a pregnant woman and two children, after taking alcohol and drugs in a rampage Friday near the Philippine capital that ended when he was shot dead by police, officials said.

At least eight other people were wounded in Kawit township, about 16 kilometres (10 miles) south of Manila, Cavite provincial Gov. Jonvic Remulla said.

The violence happened days after the death of a 7-year-old girl who was hit in the head by a stray bullet during New Year's Eve revelry in Manila sparked public criticism over lax gun control in the Philippines. Friday's rampage fueled pressure for more assertive action by authorities to deal with unlicensed firearms.

Ronald Bae, who was killed in the shootout with responding police, had been on a "drug and alcohol binge" with his friends since Monday, drinking and taking methamphetamine, Remulla said.

He said Bae left a store where he and his friends were drinking but later returned with the caretaker of his house in Kawit and began the shooting spree in the surrounding neighbourhood.

The man had left his Kawit neighbourhood about a year ago after he lost an election for village chairman. He returned Monday because of a "marital problem" with his wife, whom he had left before New Year's, Remulla said.

It was not immediately clear why Bae went on the rampage. Police investigator Arnulfo Lopez said residents heard Bae threatening to kill the caretaker if he did not reload Bae's pistol during the shooting.

"He just shot at anyone he saw," Remulla said. "You could see that these were really acts of a madman."

Among the victims was a 7-year-old girl who was shot inside her home. The girl's 2-year-old sister and 4-year-old brother, who was Bae's godson, were wounded and in critical condition. No details were immediately available about the other wounded.

The pregnant woman died after being shot in the stomach, Remulla said. Her 6-month-old fetus also died.

GMA television reported that the woman made a frantic call for help to her mother, Baby Alberto, who heard screams and gunshots.

"She said, 'Please, don't! Please don't!'" Alberto quoted her daughter as pleading with the gunman. She said she was found dead in the bathroom hugging her 3-year-old daughter, who also died.

Edwin Lacorte, an uncle of the children who were shot, said he could hear them screaming from his home nearby.

"I could not do anything," he said. "I heard the shots."

Lacorte said he later saw bullet-riddled cushions that the children had apparently used to protect themselves during the attack.

Lacorte said that Bae soon approached his house but he fled with his wife and their four children, two grandchildren and three nieces.

"He was shooting at us as we were running," he said.

Abigail Valte, a spokeswoman for President Benigno Aquino III, said the killings "will certainly fuel the efforts of the (Philippine National Police) in its drive against loose firearms."

Police estimate there are about half a million firearms that are either unlicensed or have expired licenses around the country.

Proliferation of firearms -- some smuggled and some manufactured locally -- has long fueled crime, political violence and Muslim and communist insurgencies that have raged for decades in parts of the country.

Previous attempts by authorities to clamp down on unregistered weapons have yielded little result.

The Canadian Press


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