ZAMBOANGA CITY: Gunmen opened fire on a police car, killing the police chief of Maguindanao's Ampatuan town and one of his men in a daring ambush in the troubled province, reports said.

Three other policemen were wounded in the attack. Reports said the policemen were to serve an arrest warrant on a suspected robber when a group of armed men attacked the patrol car in the village of Kapinpilan.

It said both Lt. Reynaldo Samson and Cpl. Salipudin Endab were killed instantly in the attack.

Their companions — MSg. Reynante Quinalayo, Cpl. Rogelio de la Cuesta Jr. and Cpl. Marc Clint Dayaday — were all injured and rushed to a nearby medical facility, said BGen. John Guyguyon, regional police chief.

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Radio station DXMY-Cotabato, quoting unnamed police sources, reported that as many as 50 gunmen opened fire on the patrol car. The report cannot be independently confirmed.

No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the ambush, but the province of Maguindanao is a known stronghold of various rebel groups and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which signed a peace pact with the government in 2004.

A composite police team, including members of the elite Special Action Force, was deployed in a hot pursuit operation against the suspects.