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Twelve journalists killed on Mindanao island in "dark day for press freedom"

November 23, 2009

At least 12 journalists were killed today in Maguindanao province (on the southern island of Mindanao) by armed men, including two policemen, linked to the provinces governor, a supporter of President Gloria Arroyo. More than 30 other people were murdered. Some of the victims were beheaded.

Never in the history of journalism have the news media suffered such a heavy loss of life in one day, Reporters Without Borders said. We convey our condolences and sympathy to all journalists in the Philippines, who are in state of shock after this appalling massacre.

The press freedom organisation added: We have often condemned the culture of impunity and violence in the Philippines, especially Mindanao. This time, the frenzied violence of thugs working for corrupt politicians has resulted in an incomprehensible bloodbath. We call for a strong reaction from the local and national authorities.

The massacre took place a few hours after around 50 gunmen led by Andal Ampatuan Jr., the mayor of Shariff Aguak (a municipality in Maguindanao province), and a police inspector identified solely by the name of Dicay kidnapped members of a large convoy of supporters of Esmael Mangudadatu, an Ampatuan clan opponent who wants to run for governor.

The convoy of Mangudadatu supporters, accompanied by journalists, had been on its way to an electoral bureau to file documents related to his candidacy, which the gunmen wanted to prevent. The fatalities included Mangudadatus wife, sister and other relatives. The governors son is also alleged to have been involved in the massacre.

Nonoy Espina, the vice-president of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). Told Reporters Without Borders: The government must without question bring those responsible for this massacre to justice, not just the killers but also the masterminds, whoever they are.

For more information contact:
Reporters without Borders
Phone: 33 1 44 83 84 84

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