A gunman opened fire on a Philippine mayor as he left the country's main airport yesterday along with crowds of Christmas travellers, killing him, his wife, grandson and another man.
A video clip uploaded to the local GMA television network's website showed terrified onlookers screaming and crying while a man, apparently fatally wounded, lay face down on the pavement outside the passenger terminal.
The dead were Ukol Talumpa, mayor of the southern town of Labangan, his wife, his 18-month-old grandson and a male aide, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said. "I understand that was the third attempt on the life of the mayor and this time the culprits succeeded," de Lima said. "It's extremely deplorable that even the wife, grandson and a staff [assistant] were also killed."
The gunman fired on Talumpa outside Terminal 3 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, named after President Benigno Aquino's father, who was assassinated at the airport 30 years ago.
The party was attacked shortly after getting off a flight from the southern Philippines, Manila airport general Angel Honrado said.
An airport policeman said he was on duty about 10 metres away when the mayor and his party were attacked.
"I heard gunshots so I whipped out my pistol and ran to the area. But the gunman had fled. He had an accomplice on a motorcycle," said the officer. "People were shocked and just stood there, so I could not shoot."
"We tried to chase them in a police van but got caught up in the traffic," he said.
In the GMA footage, taken by a bystander, spilled luggage and trolleys lay scattered on the kerb beside the gunned-down man.
Two other people were shown crouching on the kerb, while the voices of screaming men and women could be heard.
A taxi and four vans, all with their doors open, were stopped on the driveway, with the hazard lights of one van still blinking.
Honrado said that investigators were trying to determine how many attackers were involved. Witnesses, however, saw only one gunman, who sped away on a waiting motorcycle that was driven by another man.
Video: Amateur footage of the scenes after the airport shooting
An airport car rental dispatcher said the two men on the motorcycle wore caps and what looked like police uniforms. One of them almost fell off the motorcycle as they sped away, he said.
Talumpa, an opposition leader who was the town's former vice-mayor, defeated the incumbent mayor - a political ally of Aquino - in May elections.
He had survived a grenade attack in September last year in the town in the troubled southern region of Mindanao, and escaped another assassination attempt in Manila in 2010.
More than 60 people were killed in May's elections, when 18,000 posts, from provincial governor to town and city mayors, as well as city and town executive councils were contested.
Additional reporting by Associated Press