TACURONG CITY – Three men died after ignoring a checkpoint inspection and engaged the police in a predawn shootout in Lambayong town, Sultan Kudarat province, on Friday.

Major Jenahmeel Toñacao, Lambayong police chief, said cops manning a checkpoint around 1 a.m. in Barangay Didtaras, Lambayong flagged down three men onboard a motorbike heading toward the town proper.

The men instead sped away and a chase ensued. As the trio fled, their motorbike crashed, and they started firing at the pursuing lawmen.

“This prompted the police to return fire, hitting the armed men who all fell on the ground,” Toñacao said.

Police rushed the three men to the hospital, but all were pronounced dead upon arrival by the attending physician.

Police investigators recovered two .45-caliber pistols, a hand grenade, a sachet of shabu, and a Suzuki motorbike from the slain suspects.

The identities of the suspects are still being verified, Toñacao said.

The recovered firearms and grenade were brought to the police station for examination and cross-matching while the remains of the trio remained in the hospital awaiting claimants, he added. (PNA)