Filipino Gunmen Kidnap, Kill 21 Filing Election Papers
Political rivals blamed for massacre in country's violent south
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 23, 2009 5:31 AM CST
Updated Nov 23, 2009 8:03 AM CST
Members of the police Special Action Force take a defensive position along a road in southern Philippines in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Pat Roque)

(Newser) – Philippine troops found 21 bodies in the country's restive south today, after dozens of gunmen hijacked a convoy of politicians and supporters filing their nominations for next year's elections, officials said. The victims, 13 women and eight men, were found in southern Ampatuan township, three miles from where they were taken hostage as they traveled in vans earlier in the day. The identities of the gunmen were unclear but victims' relatives blamed political rivals.

The group comprised the wife of Buluan township vice mayor, his two sisters, followers, and several local journalists. Their convoy was hijacked by about 100 gunmen. A presidential adviser said the massacre was "unequaled in recent history." He recommended that a state of emergency be declared to disarm the gunmen. "There must be a total stop to this senseless violence."