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‘He suddenly went berserk’

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iol pic wld bullet casings

AFP

Manila -

A gunman shot dead three people and wounded several others when he opened fire in a crowded Philippine market on Friday, then was shot dead at the scene, police said.

The shooter began firing a pistol at the market in Kawit town, about 40 kilometres south of Manila, said district police chief Jaime Rollon.

“He suddenly went berserk. He was just shooting at anyone, bystanders, market vendors. The first one wounded was one of his in-laws,” Rollon told AFP.

Rollon said three people had been confirmed killed and at least two others wounded. Police were checking hospitals for other casualties, he added.

Rollon identified the suspect as a local resident named Ronald Pae, but said his motive was not yet known.

He said Pae was also shot dead at the market, however it was not yet clear who fired the bullet that killed him.

Friday's shooting comes amid a debate over the country's lawless gun culture, which was sparked by the death of a seven-year-old girl who was shot in the head by celebratory gunfire on New Year's Eve.

Stephanie Ella and her father were watching a fireworks display outside their home in a Manila suburb on Monday when a bullet, fired by a person welcoming in the New Year, hit her.

The death triggered outrage and condemnation of poor law enforcement that allows hundreds of thousands of unregistered firearms to be on the streets.

“This incident should not be allowed to become just another statistic,” Vice President Jejomar Binay said in response to Ella's death.

“We have enough laws to penalise but the problem has always been in the enforcement of laws.”

Rollon said it was unclear how Pae had obtained his weapon, but said it would have been easy for him to obtain one.

“There are a lot of people with guns here. There are civilians with guns, even without official permits to carry. They can find a way,” he said.

There were 1.2 million registered firearms in the Philippines as of last year, according to data from the police firearms and explosives office.

It said there were another roughly 600 000 unlicensed firearms in circulation across the Philippines. - Sapa-AFP


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