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Friday, May 16, 2008 - Page updated at 12:50 AM

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Police: 9 killed in Philippine bank robbery

Associated Press Writer

MANILA, Philippines —

At least eight bank employees and a security guard were lined up and shot dead in the head Friday in a bloody Philippine bank robbery, police said. Another employee was in critical condition at a hospital.

The victims were found sprawled out on the floor of a branch of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. in the town of Cabuyao in Laguna province, south of Manila, after customers alerted authorities when the bank failed to open as scheduled, said chief police Superintendent Ricardo Padilla.

"This is the handiwork of the devil and we will not let this pass," Padilla said. "They were killed in a gangland-style execution. Each of the victims shot in the head while lined up."

He said two security guards were missing, leading authorities to suspect they were involved in the robbery. It was not immediately clear how much money was stolen.

Padilla said the robbers could have used silencers, because residents in the area heard no gunshots coming from the bank.

Bank Vice President Edwin Ermita told The Associated Press the assailants tried to hide the body of the security guard under a tarpaulin in the rear of the bank.

Laguna provincial police chief, Felipe Rojas, said a vehicle owned by one of the bank employees was used by the robbers to escape. It was later recovered several miles away and will be checked for fingerprints, he said.

He said the victims, including two inside the open bank vault, were shot point-blank.

Empty handgun shells were recovered on the bank floor, and a shotgun believed to be owned by the slain security guard was found outside, he said.

Bank robberies are common but rarely as deadly in the Philippines. Rojas said this was the worst in the country's history.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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