Monday, January 04, 2010

Mansion of massacre suspects attacked in the southern Philippines

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / January 4, 2010) – Unidentified gunmen fired two rounds of rifle grenades into the sprawling mansion of a powerful political clan linked to the massacre of 57 people in the southern Philippines.

The twin attacks occurred late Sunday in the town of Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao. Police and military said no one hurt or killed in the blasts.

The country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, said the attacked may have been carried out by relatives or families of victims of atrocities of the Ampatuan clan.

“People are angry with the Ampatuans because of their atrocities. Those who attacked the mansion could be victims of the Ampatuan atrocities,” Eid Kabalu, a senior MILF leader, told the Mindanao Examiner.

It was the first time the Ampatuan mansion was attacked by gunmen. The blast damaged a wall inside the mansion.

The Ampatuan clan is one of the most feared in Mindanao and also among the wealthiest in the impoverished province, whose governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., and his sons, Zaldy Ampatuan, the regional governor, and Andal Ampatuan Jr., and several family members and relatives were linked by authorities to the gruesome killings of 57 people on November 23.

Among those killed were 31 journalists and wife and relatives of Buluan vice mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, who is a candidate for governor of Maguindanao in next year’s polls.

The victims were on a political caravan when they were abducted and killed by more then 100 gunmen allegedly led by Ampatuan Jr. All of them were eventually arrested in connection with the brutal slayings. The Ampatuans denied all the accusations against them. (Mindanao Examiner)

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