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Death toll in Maguindanao massacre now 57 - AFP

Five more bodies have been recovered from the massacre site in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao, bringing the total number of deaths to 57, a military official said Wednesday evening. Armed Forces public information chief Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner said the retrieved bodies belonged to 22 females and 35 males. Also unearthed from the site in Barangay Salman were a red Toyota Vios and an L-300 van of UNTV television network. The victims, many of them journalists, were in a convoy traveling to Shariff Aguak town when kidnapped and later executed by armed men last Monday.
Authorities unearthed the 52nd body from one of the mass graves in the 'Maguindanao massacre' site at Salman Village in Ampatuan town. Romy Elusfa
The group was about to file the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Buluan vice mayor Ismael "Toto" Mangudadatu, who is running for provincial governor in next year's elections. Toto's wife, Genalyn Tiamzon-Mangudadatu, and sisters were among those killed. The gruesome killings were blamed on the powerful Ampatuan clan, a political rival of the Mangudadatus and a close ally of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The massacre is considered as the worst case of election-related violence in the country and was condemned by the United Nations and the European Union. "I condemn in the strongest possible terms the barbaric killing on 23 November 2009 of innocent civilians, including women, journalists and lawyers, who were preparing to participate in the electoral process in the Philippines," said Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU commissioner for external relations. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "saddened" over the brutal killing and condemned the "heinous crime." - KBK, GMANews.TV