ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Suspected kidnappers ambushed a military convoy in Lanao del Sur province, killing a soldier and wounding five others, military officials said.

Gunmen believed to be part of a kidnap gang holding the son of an election official ambushed the soldiers at a road construction site in Lanao del Sur, said regional commander Major General Romeo Lustestica.

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The soldiers, onboard an Isuzu Elf truck, were traveling in Gata village, Poona Bayabao town around 5 p.m. when they were attacked, said military spokesman Arnold Gasalatan.

Gasalatan said the gunmen, numbering to at least five, were armed with high-powered firearms.

He said a firefight ensued as the government troops managed to retaliate.

The gunmen fled following a 10-minute firefight, Gasalatan added.

The six soldiers were brought to Amai Pakpak Hospital but one of them was declared dead on arrival. The identities of the slain and wounded soldiers were not yet known, but they are assigned with the Army's 51st Infantry Battalion.

Gasalatan said the soldiers were supposed to fetch a construction firm owner in Iligan City and conduct ocular inspection on a circumferential road project in Lake Lanao.

Lustestica said the ambush may have been launched as a tactic to divert attention from the search for the kidnap victim, Nuraldin Yusoph.

Yusoph, 22, son of Commission on Elections Commissioner Elias Yusoph, was kidnapped by a group of gunmen last June 20 in the village of Sabala Amano, Marawi City.

Operations continue in the hinterlands of Kapai, Lanao del Sur, where the kidnappers are holding young Yusoph, the military said.

In Manila, Commissioner Yusoph wants President Benigno Aquino III to place Lanao del Sur under military control to ensure the safe release of his son.

“The President should declare martial law in so far as the entire province is concerned because my son is being held hostage. If we continue to tolerate this, it will be a chaotic condition everyday," he said.

Yusoph said the government should pursue the case since the abductors have earlier asked the nullification of some votes in four municipalities in the province.

The emotional poll official appealed not only to the kidnappers for the safe release of his son but also to local government leaders for them to break their silence on the issue.

"I appeal to the kidnappers not to push me against the wall because if worse comes to worst, I am even willing to sacrifice my life if only to stop this kind of barbaric activities," he added.

He noted that the military has already identified the culprits but failed to take action in filing cases against them.

The police earlier alleged that relatives of Yusoph may be behind the abduction.

Authorities have also said that the group behind the abduction has demanded P25 million from the Yusoph family. (Bong Garcia/Kathrina Alvarez/AP/Sunnex)