2 Chinese diplomats killed in Philippines restaurant attack
China’s consul general in the Philippines’ second biggest city was injured and two of his staff members were killed on Wednesday during a lunchtime gun attack at a restaurant, AFP said quoting police.
The Chinese consulate’s deputy consul Sun Shan and finance officer Hui Li were pronounced dead at the hospital, while the consul-general, Song Ronghua, 53, is being treated for injuries, national police spokesman and Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said in a text message.
Two other Chinese at the lunch, a consular officer and her husband, were arrested for the shooting.
A 45 calibre gun was found at the scene.
Police said the attack occurred at 1.30pm (0530 GMT) at Lighthouse, a popular restaurant that serves Filipino food in Cebu, the trading capital of the central Philippines.
Staff at the upmarket restaurant said a group of nine people had gathered in a private room to celebrate the birthday of the consul general, Song Ronghua.
Restaurant cashier Remedios Rivalde, 27, said she was at work at the cash register outside of the function room when she heard gunshots.
“I dived under the counter and covered my ears. Then there were other shots that followed,” Rivalde said.
She said the reservation had been made shortly before lunch for the consul general’s birthday, and the group had ordered a banquet that included popular local delicacies such as tuna head, shrimps and roasted pork.
“They ordered a lot of food, but no liquor,” she said.
Citing witnesses and video from a restaurant security camera, regional police chief Tom Banas said the attacker first fired at the consul-general and his deputy in the room. The finance officer ran outside the room but the attacker followed and shot her, and she slumped to the floor.
Song too was shot in the neck, but his injuries were not believed to be life threatening and he was in a stable condition in hospital, Banas said.
“The bullet went clear through (his neck),” Banas said.
He said the suspects — consular officer Gou Jing and her husband Li Qing Liang — were later arrested without any resistance.
But they were not ready to co-operate with the police. So details of the shootings and the motives were not known.
“They claimed they cannot speak English. Maybe, they don’t want to give a statement,” he said, adding they had a lawyer.
Lighthouse manager Stephen John Patero said the staff did not see the shooting because only the guests were in the private room at the time.
But he said waiters who served them beforehand had heard the guests shouting at each other.
“They are all friends who apparently figured in an argument,” he said.
Jimmy Dichos, 34, a blind singer, said he was singing Happy Birthday for the guests while his blind companion played the ukele when the shots rang out. He said he heard plates crash.
A security guard of the restaurant said the attacker, before leaving the restaurant, went back to check if the finance officer lying on the floor was dead.
The shooter then gave the hand gun to his wife who placed it in a paper bag.
The couple then walked out and crossed the street.
They were later arrested from an office building in Cebu Business Park.
Romel Bargio, a security guard at the nearby Mango Hotel, told AP he saw a Chinese man dash out of the restaurant after the shooting.
The man told Bargio that he was shot and asked for help in getting to a hospital. He could not wait for an ambulance and took a taxi to the hospital.
“He was very pale. There was so much blood,” Bargio said.
A spokeswoman at the Chinese embassy in Manila, Li Lingxiao, said she could not yet comment.
“Our embassy is still verifying the facts. We’ll update you as soon as I have anything new,” Li said.
Philippine foreign ministry spokesman Charles Jose also said he had no comment, as authorities were still determining what happened.
Cebu, a commercial hub and tourism destination of about a million people, is 570 km south of Manila. Chinese and Chinese-Filipino businesspeople have had a long presence in the region, with investments in trading, hotels, condominiums and restaurants, Mayor Mike Rama said.
While Cebu is a relatively safe region, the shooting offers lessons in how security should be improved, Rama said. He asked why there had been a failure to detect an attacker walking around with a gun.