Communist guerrillas have wounded a town mayor and killed two of her aides in a pre-election ambush in the southern Philippines, police said Sunday.
Ruth Guingona, a member of President Benigno Aquino's Liberal Party whose husband is a former vice president, sustained wounds in her arms and feet in late Saturday's attack on Mindanao island, police said.
"Ms Guingona was with six police escort on their way back from attending a town fiesta when they were ambushed by New People's Army (NPA) rebels," national police spokesman Generoso Cerbo told reporters.
Chief Superintendent Cerbo said the rebels fled after a 10-minute gunfight with the police. However the mayor was safely retrieved only at dawn Sunday, hours after the attack, because the ambush site was in a remote area.
The mayor's son, Senator Teofisto Guingona, said his mother was in a stable condition following the harrowing ordeal.
He said his mother's convoy was blocked by NPA rebels armed with high powered firearms as she made her way home before midnight.
"They had grenade launchers and they were able to flip over the vehicle carrying my mother," Guingona said.
"She was wounded and trapped inside the vehicle. I am relieved that she is now safe and in stable condition," he said.
He said the police and the military had launched a manhunt for the attackers, who also killed his mother's driver and an aide, and wounded one officer.
A spokeswoman for Aquino, Abigail Valte, said the government condemned the attack, and vowed justice for the Guingonas.
"There is no place for violent acts like this against any official or candidate in this coming May election," she said.
The attack came less than a month before local elections in May. NPA guerrillas often take advantage of election seasons to raise funds, by demanding protection money from candidates who want to campaign in areas under their control.
"We feel sorry about the incident, but Guingona was warned last week not to bring an armed security escort with her while on the campaign trail," NPA spokesman George Madlos said, admitting the rebels staged the attack.
Police said the wounded Guingona was the outgoing mayor of Gingoog city in Mindanao, the country's main southern island, which is plagued by decades of communist and Muslim insurgencies.
She was campaigning for her daughter, Stella Marie, to replace her as mayor when the attack happened, police said, contrary to earlier reports that she was seeking a second term.
She is married to former vice president Teofisto Guingona. Their son, also called Teofisto, is a member of the Philippine Senate. The Guingonas were not immediately available to comment on the attack.