Police in the Philippines have found more bodies at a shallow grave in the south of the country, bringing the total number of victims kidnapped yesterday to a least 46.
They were ambushed by gunmen as they travelled to register nominations for next May’s election and were reportedly hacked to death or shot a point blank range.
The President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has declared a state of emergency.
‘‘No effort will be spared to bring justice to the victims and hold the perpetrators accountable to the full limit of the law. The chief of staff has ordered the establishment of check and choke points,’‘ she said.
The Island of Mindanao is notorious for violence between rival clans but even this pre-poll attack has shocked ordinary Filipinos.
Suspicion for the massacre has fallen on a powerful town mayor after four witness claimed gunman loyal to him stopped the victims convoy, which included around a dozen journalists.
Central government control remains weak. Awash with weapons the region is often run by political warlords who maintain private armies.