Philippine police clash with 'massacre suspects' – Philippines


Mon, 07 Dec 2009 18:37:29 GMT

Martial law has been in place in the province following last week’s massacre.

The Philippines National Police have clashed with members of a local clan in the southern province of Maguindanao allegedly responsible for the killing of 57 people.
The firefight occurred in the town of Datu Unsay late Sunday when about 20 to 30 armed followers of the Ampatuan clan — the main suspect in last month’s massacre in Maguindanao — opened fire on police commandos, National Police Chief Jesus Verzosa said.
There has been no immediate report of any casualties from either side.
Government negotiators are trying to persuade about 2,400 gunmen to surrender peacefully to avoid bloodshed, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno told reporters in Manila.
Martial law has been in place in the province following the massacre.
On November 23, gunmen attacked a convoy of the wife, sisters and relatives of a politician planning to run against the province’s governor in elections next year.
Fifty-seven bodies were later found off the highway, some on a grassy hillside and some buried in a hastily dug pit, all bearing gunshot wounds.
The town’s mayor has already been arrested over the killings.
The military says it is hunting down the mayor’s followers, who fled before martial law was declared on Friday.