TWO Philippine Army soldiers and a civilian were killed in a predawn shooting spree near a bus terminal in Cagayan de Oro City before dawn Wednesday, the police reported.

Army Corporal Roque Tagalongan and Sergeant Michael Seno had barely touched the drinks they ordered at a videoke bar when two assailants opened fire at them, killing the two instantly, probers said.

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Tagalongan and Seno were members of the 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB) of the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) of the Philippine Army.

Witnesses said an onlooker who approached the crime scene apparently to inquire after hearing the gunfire was shot to death by one of the suspects.

Police identified the victim as Leo Acedo, 32, a resident of San Juan, Barangay Lapasan.

Another civilian, identified by police as Jun-jun Sabala, a resident Barangay Balulang, sustained gunshot wounds and is being treated at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center as of this posting Wednesday.

A hospital staff said Sabala was still in critical condition.

Police said the killings occurred inside the C & N videoke bar located along Valenzuela Road, Agora in Barangay Lapasan.

The shooting incidents appeared to be cases of random violence because the killers had no clear motive than to harm the victims, said Police Chief Inspector Reynante Reyes, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office.

“Initial investigation showed that the two unidentified gunmen shot the two soldiers with no apparent reason, except for the glass that was accidentally broken by one of the soldiers as both of them were about to start drinking,” Reyes said.

A witness said the broken glass had attracted the attention of the gunmen, who were sitting with a Caucasian foreigner from the other table. The armed men then approached the 4th ID troopers -- who were unarmed because of the election gun ban -- and asked if they were government soldiers.

“The soldiers were asked for identification cards, and when they showed none, the gunmen opened fire,” said the female witness interviewed by Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.

The armed men then shot Acedo when the latter attempted to approach them, wounding Sabala in the process, the police said, quoting witnesses.

Probers said the suspects fled from the crime scene in a white vintage car, its plate number unknown.

Six empty shells and one live bullet from caliber .45 pistols were recovered from the area.

Colonel Michele Anayron, 4th ID spokesperson, said Corporal Tagalongan was supposed to go home in Kibawe town, Bukidnon to attend to his child’s graduation.

“Corporal Tagalongan then asked Sergeant Seno to bring him to the bus terminal because the latter has a motorcycle. They were unarmed. Maybe they were waiting for the bus and decided to get a few drinks,” Anayron said.

The local police said a manhunt was immediately organized to collar the killers, including the foreigner who was with them when the incident occurred. (ALR)