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Philippines' mayor shot dead by extremists

A Christian mayor was shot dead in front of city hall in a southern Philippine island racked by Muslim extremist violence.

india Updated: Mar 03, 2006 13:03 IST

A Christian mayor in Philippines was shot dead in front of his city hall Friday, in a southern island racked by Muslim extremist violence.

Mayor Luis Biel was gunned down and four of his staff wounded, before the assailant was killed by Biel's bodyguards, said local police chief, Senior Inspector William Gadayan.

Biel was Mayor of the majority-Christian city of Isabela, the capital of Basilan island. He was shot from behind with a revolver while talking to an associate in front of city hall.

The Mayor died in hospital shortly afterwards, but the gunman has not been identified.

Basilan has a Muslim majority, with a significant Christian population mostly in the main towns and cities.

In recent years, the island has been a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim extremist group that has been linked by both Washington and Manila to the Al-Qaeda network.

The Abu Sayyaf group in Basilan have engaged in kidnappings and bombings on Christian and foreign targets, but it is not clear if it is involved in the Mayor's murder.

Biel had provoked the ire of many Muslim residents in recent weeks, by saying he would carry out a court order for the demolition of a 16-year-old mosque in Isabela City.

However, the mosque has not yet been demolished.

First Published: Mar 03, 2006 12:44 IST