FAKE AMBUSH? Palace and military officials on Wednesday belied claims that the ambush that wounded seven presidential guards and two soldiers in Marawi, Lanao Del Sur was merely staged.
According to the Philippine Army, an advance party of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and Radio-TV Malacañang that was supposed to iron out President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to the neighboring town of Butig ran over an improvised explosive device in Barangay Matampay.
Unidentified suspects then opened fire on their party, the military said.
But rumors that no ambush occurred quickly circulated on social media.
Some residents living near the blast site claimed that while they heard an explosion in the area, they saw no one firing at the convoy.
They added they saw only the military personnel firing and that several houses along the highway were hit.
Col. Roseller Murillo, commander of the Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade, said rumors of a fake ambush were part of propaganda by sympathizers of the Maute terror group which is currently battling state forces in the neighboring town of Butig.
He said eight people suffered shrapnel wounds due to the attack while a PSG member was hit by a bullet in the neck.
Government, he said, "would not injure fellow troops to create a scenario."
Murillo also revealed that the "bomb signature" of the improvised explosive device used in the attack points to Maute fighters.
Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Michel Ablan also dismissed the alleged fake ambush story as a "conspiracy theory."
"We ask citizens to verify news they receive from social media. Government will not sacrifice the lives of our soldiers for conspiracy theories," he said.
ABS-CBN News' Chiara Zambrano also obtained photos showing bullet holes on the military truck used by Duterte's advance party.
The helmet of one escort was also hit by a bullet, as shown by another photo from Zambrano.
Duterte earlier said he will push through with his visit to Lanao del Sur Wednesday.
The Army said it has recaptured two-thirds of Butig and may flush out the terrorists within the day.