Philippines Massacre Update: 20 Arrested
In the case of the Philippines massacre on the island of Mindanao that took place on Monday, security forces in the Philippines have announced that they have arrested 20 people in connection to the deaths.
This comes on the heels of another 11 bodies found buried in shallow graves, taking the death toll up to 57. The first funerals for some victimes are expected to take place on Thursday, while other bodies are still being identified.
Andal Ampatuan Jr, the local mayor, is the lead suspect in the massacre, and he is expected to be taken in to custody on Thursday.
"We are expecting Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr to be turned over peacefully to the authorities anytime today," Lieutenant-Colonel Romeo Brawner, a military spokesman, told reporters.
Andal Ampatuan Jr has said that he will give himself in to show that he is willing to cooperate with police. Ampatuan Jr. is the son of the provincial governor, who is a close friend of Gloria Arroyo, the Philippine president.
On Monday, about 100 suspected Ampatuan gunmen supposedly jumped on a convoy of aides and relatives of Esmael Mangudadatu, a rival politician, who was traveling with some journalists as well. They were going to file election paper nominating Mangudadatu as a candidate in the next provincial governor.
Many of the victims were shot at close range, with their hands tied behind their backs and then buried in shallow graves. Mangudadatu was not in the convoy himself.
He had this to say about the incident:
"It was really planned because they had already dug a huge hole [for the bodies]," he said, adding that there were reports from the area that the militia had been blocking the road for a few days.
There were 20 journalists among the dead. Now the pressure is on the Arroyo government to take action against those that did the killings. A state of emergency has been declared in Maguindanao and a neighbouring province.