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21 killed in political violence in southern Philippines

Twenty-one people, including journalists, were killed on Monday in an outbreak of political violence in the southern Philippines, the military said.

world Updated: Nov 23, 2009 17:22 IST
DPA

Twenty-one people, including journalists, were killed on Monday in an outbreak of political violence in the southern Philippines, the military said.

Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner, a military spokesman, said troops recovered the bodies in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province, 930 km south of Manila.

Brawner said 13 of the victims were women and eight were men, but the identities were still being confirmed.

Buluan town Vice Mayor Ibrahim Mangudadatu said the victims included his wife, two sisters, three lawyers and several local journalists.

"They were all killed, beheaded," Mangudadatu said.

Brawner could not yet confirm how the victims were killed.

Supporters of the rival Ampatuan political family were suspected to be behind the killings, he said.

About 100 gunmen reportedly led by Shariff Aguak town Mayor Datu Unsay Ampatuan blocked three vehicles used by the victims before noon and brought the hostages to a nearby mountain village.

Mangudadatu said he sent his wife, Genalyn, and siblings to file his certificate of candidacy for the post of governor of Maguindanao for elections in May.

"I talked to my wife before she was killed and I know the Ampatuans are behind this atrocity," he said. "They were the perpetrators."

Feuding groups and families in the southern region of Mindanao often settle differences through violence. Clan wars erupt over land disputes and political rivalry.

Elections in the Philippines have traditionally been marred by violence, despite additional gun restrictions imposed during the campaign and polling periods.