Monday, November 23, 2009

Buluan vice mayor's wife, media men beheaded | 11/23/2009 5:10 PM

MANILA - Bodies of 21 of the 30 beheaded kidnap victims, including the wife and relatives of Buluan town's vice mayor, were recovered by government troops in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province Monday afternoon.

AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. confirmed to ANC that 13 female and 8 male bodies were found by members of the 601st Infrantry Brigade of the AFP around 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Buluan vice mayor Esmael "Toto" Mangadadatu told ANC that his wife, Genalyn, his sister, and some relatives were on their way to file a certificate of candidacy on his behalf when a group of about 100 armed men abducted them.

Mangudadatu, who is running for governor of Maguindanao, said some media men who went to cover the event were also seized.

Mangudadatu believes the abduction was politically motivated. He told ANC that he sent his wife and female relatives to file his certificate of candidacy in the hope that his political rivals would spare them.

He said his wife called him at around 9:30 in the morning to say an armed group, supposedly of the Ampatuan clan, a political rival, flagged down their convoy.

He told ANC it was the Ampatuans who beheaded his wife, his sister, relatives, supporters and other civilians, after robbing them.

The Mangundadatu clan is known to have a long-running feud with the family of Maguindanao's incumbent governor Andal Ampatuan, who police say is known to control his own private army.

Brawner said there were about 100 gunmen, most of whom were militiamen deputised as government guards by Ampatuan's family.

Brawner said the leader of the militiamen who staged the kidnapping was one of Ampatuan's sons. Ampatuan was not immediately reachable for comment.

Revenge killings and clashes among rival political families are common in Maguindanao and other parts of Mindanao island, where unlicensed firearms proliferate and parts of which are lawless.

Islamic militants on Mindanao have also been waging a separatist rebellion for decades. - with AFP

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