Gunmen stopped a group of motorcycle riders then opened fire with assault rifles in a busy downtown area in the southern Philippines, killing nine people, police said Sunday, in the latest violence to roil the volatile region.
Police officials said the attack on the victims, who were mostly farmers, at noon Saturday in Kabacan town in Cotabato province may have been sparked by a local feud and was likely not an act of terrorism.
Cotabato lies in a poverty-wracked region where a decades-long Muslim separatist insurgency has eased largely due to a 2014 peace deal between the Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group and the government, although small armed groups aligned with the Islamic State group still pose a threat.
Most of the victims apparently did not know each other and were travelling on six motorcycles, some in tandems, when they were blocked by six to eight gunmen and ordered to alight.
After getting off their motorcycles in the middle of the road, they were shot 39 times with rifles and pistols, police investigator Delir Parcon said by phone.
Eight of the victims were killed instantly and another died in a hospital, a police report said. The gunmen fled in a van.