A strife-torn southern Philippine province was under martial law today as soldiers hunted down members of its ruling family accused of carrying out an election-linked massacre of 57 people.
President Gloria Arroyo placed Maguindanao province under military rule late Friday night in an effort to contain the private armies of the provincial governor and other members of his Muslim clan, the government said.
"Martial law was implemented to also make it easier to bring the clan members into custody,and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has taken this bold step in answer to the cry for justice of the (relatives of the) victims of the Maguindanao massacre" presidential spokesman Cerge Remonde told reporters.
Within hours of martial law being declared, special forces stormed into the home of the governor, Andal Ampatuan Snr, and took him into custody, the military said. "He was taken at 1800 GMT on Friday by Special Action Forces. He did not resist (arrest)," regional military spokesman Major Randolph Cabangbang said.
One of the clan chief's son, Zaldy Ampatuan, the governor of an autonomous Muslim area in the southern Philippines, was also taken into custody on Saturday morning, according to the military.