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36 hostages killed in Maguindanao

(philstar.com) Updated November 23, 2009 08:34 PM

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - Thirty-six persons of a group of local politicians and journalists abducted Monday in a pre- election related incidence in Maguindanao, southern Philippines have been found dead, local media reported.

According to a report of the website of the Philippine Inquirer, Jenalyn, the wife of Buluan town mayor Esmail Mangudadatu; Esmail' s sisters Eden, Rowena and Farida; his lawyers Cynthia Oquendo and Connie Brizuela; and Mr. Oquendo, the father of Cynthia, were among those who were abducted and killed.

Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said this group was aboard three vehicles when they were intercepted by about 100 men at the village of Saniag in Ampatuan town around 10:35 a.m.

Brawner said the victims were later brought near the camp of the Tornado Command of the Moro National Liberation Front at Salman village. This is where Army's 601st Brigade recovered the bodies, along with their vehicles, at around 4:30 p.m.

"It's barbaric. The perpetrators even raped their women hostages before killing them," Esmail told local reporters.

Esmail claimed that Andal Ampatuan Sr., Maguindanao's incumbent governor and his political rival, is behind the kidnapping.

Esmail, who will run for governor of Maguindanao in next year's elections, was supposed to file certificate of candidacy at the office of Provincial Commission on Elections. But his family offered to file the certificate of candidacy on his behalf, as Esmail has been allegedly receiving death threats from his political rival.

"We thought that they (political rivals) won't kill the women, so we sent all our female relatives, including our sisters, to file for his (Esmail's) candidacy," Madasser Mangudadato, a member of the Regional Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Esmail's brother, said in a phone interview.

"But we made a big mistake because they (political rival) did not spare anyone," he said.
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