Philippine mayor on Duterte's drug list killed

Philippine mayor on Duterte's drug list killed

Relatives (R) of slain Clarin town mayor David Navarro mourn next to his body after he and his police escort were ambushed in Cebu. (AFP Photo)

A mayor on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's list of local officials suspected to have drug links was killed by still unidentified gunmen on Friday, the latest high-profile killing in his war on drugs.

David Navarro, a town mayor in the southern island of Mindanao, was being transported by police to a prosecutor's office in Cebu City, in the central Philippines, when gunmen ambushed him and his police escorts, police said.

Navarro was arrested by the police on Thursday after he was accused of assaulting a massage therapist in Cebu.

Navarro was included in Duterte's updated list of "narco-politicians" which his office made public in March, ahead of the May 2019 mid-term polls.

Police said they have killed 6,700 drug dealers during shootouts in a war on drugs unleashed by Duterte more than three years ago, a campaign condemned by domestic and international human rights groups.

On October 14, the Philippines' police chief stepped down on less than a month before his retirement, after he was accused of involvement in "recycling" confiscated drugs, an allegation that could undermine the government's anti-narcotics campaign.