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article imagePhilippines: Maguindanao Massacre Death Toll Climbs to 57

By Leo Reyes     Nov 25, 2009 in Crime
Eleven more dead bodies were recovered from mass graves by police investigating the gruesome massacre of civilians and news reporters by at least 100 armed men believed to be supporters of a political clan of Maguindanao, bringing the death toll to 57
Officials of Philippine National Police recovered 11 more bodies in a mass grave Wednesday bringing the death toll of the gruesome Maguindanao massacre to 57 including 18 news reporters.
Two graves were found earlier containing 46 bodies of the victims of violent massacre of civilians by at least 100 armed men in a village of Sharif Aguak in Maguindanao.
The police and military officials are investigating the violent incident while recovery operations to find more bodies of victims continue.
The military also announced it will disarm two government-armed civilian militia companies, or about 200 men, in southern Maguindanao province, which is ruled by the powerful Ampatuan clan. The militia are meant to act as an auxiliary force to the military and police in fighting rebels and criminals but often serve as a private security force of local warlords.
Firearms and ammunition of the militiamen will be retrieved by higher military units. At the same time, firearms licenses will be revoked by military authorities in Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat, the two provinces covered by the state of emergency proclamation.
In the meantime, local news organizations where the victims are connected claimed that some reporters are being restricted and threatened if they continue to cover the incident.
In Malacanang Palace, officials have assured the public that government will punish those who are involved in the massacre even if they are political allies of the ruling party. They said that arrests will be made as soon as evidence are gathered and investigations completed.
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