China's consul-general in Cebu City was wounded while two of his senior staff members were killed when a gunman fired at them as they were having lunch yesterday at a restaurant in the Philippines' second biggest city.
Mr Song Ronghua, 53, was rushed to hospital after the shooting. He was shot in the neck but the injuries were reportedly not life threatening, and he was in stable condition last night.
But two of Mr Song's aides - identified as deputy consul Shen Sun and the Chinese consulate's finance officer Li Hui- died before reaching the hospital, according to Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor, spokesman offor the Philippine National Police.
Superintendent Romeo Santan-der, intelligence chief of the Cebu City Police, said a man and a woman, both Chinese, were later arrested. He identified the suspects as Mr Li Qinglong and his wife, Ms Guo Jing.
Ms Guo reportedly works at the consulate. Another report identified Mr Li as a consul.
Cebu police said Mr Song was having lunch with at least eight other people inside a private room at the upscale Lighthouse Restaurant, along General Maxilom Street, when shots were heard at around 1.30pm.
Supt Santander said footage from a CCTV camera shows Mr Li walking into the private room before the shooting, and walking out of the restaurant shortly after.
Mr Li allegedly left his semi-automatic .45 Colt pistol at the restaurant, and Ms Guo was said to have attempted to hide it. The couple were later arrested at the Chinese consulate's office in Cebu Business Park.
The restaurant's manager, Mr Stephen John Patero, told Agence France-Presse that his waiters had heard Mr Song's guests shouting at one another. "They are all friends who apparently figured in an argument," he said.
Mr Patero said none of the restaurant's employees witnessed the shooting.
"We did not see the actual shooting. They were inside a private function room. There was a series of gunshots," he said.
The group reportedly ordered a lot of food, but no liquor.
Police said they are still trying to piece together what happened, and what prompted the shooting.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila has yet to issue a formal statement.
"Our embassy is still verifying the facts," a spokesman for the embassy, Ms Li Lingxiao, said.
Mr Charles Jose, spokesman for the Philippine Foreign Ministry, declined to comment.
Mr Song was appointed consul- general in charge of China's consulate in Cebu just last month.
Ms Mila Espina, a columnist for the daily Sun Star Cebu, described Mr Song as "amiable" and "a very articulate speaker and writer
with an impressive educational background".
In a news item shortly after his appointment, Mr Song had said the Philippines and China "have no excuses to quarrel".