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(4th LD) 3 S. Koreans shot to death in Philippines

All News 17:10 October 13, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with police briefing in paras 3-7)

SEOUL, Oct. 13 (Yonhap) -- Three South Koreans have been shot to death in the Philippines, a foreign ministry official said Thursday.

The three -- two male, one female -- were found dead Tuesday with gunshot wounds in their heads, according to the official. Their bodies were found in a sugar cane field in Bacolor, a small city of around 30,000 people.

A 51-year-old victim was found with his feet bound with tape, and the body of the female victim, 48, was lying nearby with her hands tied, Seoul police said. The three, including a 46-year-old man, have all been confirmed as South Korean nationals. Earlier the nationality of one victim needed to be verified.

The two men left South Korea on Aug. 16 and arrived in the Philippines via Hong Kong, according to the police. The 46-year-old woman left South Korea three days later.

The victims entered the Philippines with tourists visas, but police said they did not seem like tourists, adding they have yet to clarify how the three had been staying in the country.

There have been rumors that the victims were involved in a domestic crime and fled to the Philippines, but police said they were not on the local authorities' wanted list. They declined to further comment on the issue, saying they are not yet at a stage to speak conclusively about it.

South Korea's embassy in Manila is working closely with local police to figure out the exact circumstances of their death, the official said.

The latest death report brings the number of South Korean nationals killed in the Philippines to six so far this year, including a missionary who was killed in his home in May.

Last year, a total of 11 Korean nationals were killed in the Philippines, according to the foreign ministry.

Police, meanwhile, said they will dispatch four investigators to the Southeast Asian country later Thursday to examine the latest case in collaboration with their Filipino counterparts.

The four include experts on crime scene investigation and analysis from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency and the National Forensic Service.

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