Two diplomats held in deadly Philippines shooting flown to China

Shooting suspect Li Qing Liang is escorted out of a police detention centre in Cebu city on Oct 23, 2015.
Shooting suspect Li Qing Liang is escorted out of a police detention centre in Cebu city on Oct 23, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (AFP) - Two Chinese diplomats have been flown to China to stand trial for a gun attack in the Philippines that killed two of their colleagues and wounded another, Philippine authorities said on Saturday (Oct 24).

China's consul general in the central city of Cebu survived after being shot in the neck, but two of his staff members died during the lunchtime attack at a restaurant on Wednesday.

"They (the suspects) already left last night, direct flight from Cebu to Xiamen," foreign ministry spokesman Charles Jose told AFP in a text message, referring to a southeastern Chinese city.

"Yes, they will be prosecuted in China," he added.

The motive of the gun attack was not known, and the positions held by the two suspects at the consulate remained unclear.

China has the death penalty, while the Philippines does not.

The Chinese foreign ministry has given little information about the attack.

Chinese embassy spokeswoman Li Lingxiao told AFP she had no comment to make on the Filipino government's announcement over the transfer of custody.

Staff at the upmarket Cebu restaurant earlier said the victims and suspects were among nine Chinese diners who had gathered to celebrate the birthday of the consul general, Song Ronghua.

The Chinese embassy in Manila later described the couple as accredited Chinese diplomats and invoked diplomatic immunity, Jose has said.

The Cebu provincial police chief, Superintendent Tom Banas, told AFP police handed the suspects over to the Filipino foreign ministry on Friday night.

"I was informed they have already been flown out to China," Banas added.