COTABATO CITY -- Police are in pursuit of suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who killed two people, including a four-month-old baby, and critically wounded a town police chief and two others in an ambush Thursday in Barangay Pigkalaan, Talakag, Bukidnon.

Sr. Insp. Jemar delos Santos, spokesperson for the Philippine National Police–Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PNP-ARMM), identified the target of the ambush as Insp. Joven Acuesta, police chief of Amai Manabilang (formerly Bombaran), Lanao del Sur, who remains in critical condition at a hospital.

Delos Santos said Acuesta’s group was onboard a police car and on their way home from Marawi City when ambushed at around 5:30 p.m. along the highway in Talakag.

Amai Manablang, a third-class municipality situated at the boundary of Lanao del Sur and Bukidnon provinces, has a “high presence” of NPA rebels, according to military data.

Delos Santos said Acuesta was injured in the initial burst of gunfire, while a trailing civilian Fortuner vehicle also hit by the barrage of bullets.

“A baby died while two other female passengers of the civilian car were wounded,” he said.

Police probers are still trying to determine the identity of the slain non-uniformed personnel who served as driver of the police car and the whereabouts of three PNP personnel who were with Acuesta at the time of the incident.

Delos Santos identified the missing policemen as SPO3 Arniel Carillo, SPO1 Pacifico Gabudoy, and PO1 Nathaniel Ibal, all of the Amai Manabilang police station.

“We are still looking for our missing colleagues up to now,” he said. (PNA)