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Mayor linked to drugs trade among 14 shot dead in Philippines violence

Police in the southern Philippines have fatally shot 14 people, including a city mayor who was among politicians President Rodrigo Duterte publicly linked to illegal drugs.

Officers were serving warrants to Ozamiz mayor Reynaldo Parojinog to search his houses for the suspected presence of illegal firearms when gunmen opened fire on police, sparking clashes that killed the mayor and at least 13 other people, local police chief Jovie Espenido said.

"He's a high-value target on illegal drugs," said Mr Espenido, who oversaw the simultaneous, post-midnight raids on the mayor's residence and three other houses.

"We enforce the law to protect the people who want peace in this country," he said. "How can we enforce the law if... we're scared of the drug lords? That cannot be, they should be afraid of people who do good for all."

At least five people, including Mr Parojinog's daughter, who serves as vice mayor of Ozamiz, were arrested during the raids.

Policemen were approaching the mayor's house when his bodyguards opened fire and hit a police car and injured an officer, sparking a firefight amid a power outage, Mr Espenido said.

A grenade held by one of Mr Parojinog's bodyguards exploded during the clash inside his house and it remains unclear if he and his wife were killed by the blast or police gunfire, or both.

Mr Espenido added that assault rifles, grenades, suspected methamphetamine and cash were seized in the raids.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said: "The administration vowed to intensify the drug campaign. The Parojinogs, if you would recall, are included in (Duterte's) list of personalities involved in the illegal drug trade."

Mr Parojinog, who also faced corruption charges, had denied any links to illegal drugs.

He was the third mayor to be killed under Mr Duterte's bloody crackdown on drugs, which has left more than 3,000 dead in reported gunfights with police and thousands of other unexplained deaths of suspects.

The drug killings have been widely criticised by Western governments and human rights groups that have called for an end to what they suspect were extrajudicial killings related to the anti-drug campaign.

Mr Duterte has vowed not to stop until the last drug dealer in the country has been eliminated.

AP

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