Death toll of political abduction climbs to 46: Philippine military

19:57, November 24, 2009      

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Philippine security forces on Tuesday recovered a total of 25 more bodies from a village in Ampatuan town in southern Philippine province of Maguindanao, bringing the total number of fatalities from Monday's pre-election violence to 46.


Dead bodies lie on the ground near their vehicles at the crime scene of a massacre of a political clan that included several journalists in the outskirts of Ampatuan, Maguindanao in southern Philippines Nov. 24, 2009.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Lt. Col. Rolando Nerona, commander of the Army's 46th Infantry Battalion, told reporters that 24 of the new recoveries were dug up from graves, while the 25th, a woman, was hidden under some of the 21 bodies which were found sprawled on the ground or inside their vehicles Monday afternoon.

"Our last accounting showed there are 46 (dead) already," said Nerona. However, the official could not immediately say the identities of the victims. "Twenty-two were found above ground while 24 were dug up today," he said.

Nerona said the digging operations were stopped after sunset. "It's already dark, it will resume tomorrow."

Though political violence is common in the Philippines, the scale and nature of Monday's killing shocked the nation.


A shallow grave of victims is dug at the scene of a massacre of a political clan, which included several journalists, on the outskirts of Ampatuan, Maguindanao in southern Philippines Nov. 24, 2009.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Presidential Adviser for Mindanao Jesus Dureza described the assassination as a "gruesome massacre unequaled in recent history". He earlier recommended the state of emergency to be put in place to ensure "everyone be disarmed".

Maguindanao is part of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao,a Muslims-dominating area created by a peace pact signed between the government and a large Muslim rebel group in 1996. Clan wars in Mindanao are often fatal as the region is awash with loose arms.

The dominance of Amputuan family in Maguindanao was not challenged over the past decade. The family reportedly owns a private army composed of 100 fully armed militiamen.


A police investigator walks past the body of a journalist at the scene of a massacre of a political clan, which included several journalists, on the outskirts of Ampatuan, Maguindanao in southern Philippines Nov. 24, 2009.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)


Source: Xinhua
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