AMPATUAN, PHILIPPINES // Authorities have recovered six more bodies, bringing the death toll to 52 in one of the Philippines' worst election massacres. The regional police commander Josefino Cataluna says the bodies were dug out from a shallow pit near a grassy hilltop where police and troops earlier found 46 other remains from Monday's attack in southern Maguindanao province. Cataluna says two vehicles, a sedan and a van, were entirely buried in the same hole. The 52 victims include the family of a gubernatorial candidate and 18 Filipino journalists who accompanied his relatives in filing his election papers. Suspicion fell on a rival clan that has ruled the province unopposed for years.
"This is not a simple feud between opposing clans. This is a supreme act of inhumanity that is a blight on our nation. The president has vowed that the perpetrators will not find the way to escape justice," the presidential spokesman Cerge Remonde said on the ABS CBN television network. Police earlier said the top suspect in Monday's killings was Andal Ampatuan Jnr, a member of Arroyo's ruling coalition and the son of a powerful regional politician who has helped secure votes for the president in previous elections. Ampatuan's father, who has the same name, is the governor of Maguindanao province, a lawless part of the strife-torn Mindanao island where the massacre took place. The killings occurred after gunmen allegedly hired by the Ampatuan clan abducted relatives and aides of a rival politician, Eshmael Mangudadatu, plus a group of journalists, then shot them from close range. * With agencies