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Martial law set in Philippines province

Dec. 5, 2009 at 8:17 AM

MANILA, Philippines, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Martial law in the Philippines province of Maguindanao was in force Saturday after last month's massacre of 57 people there, officials said.

President Gloria Arroyo imposed the measure Saturday, presidential spokesman Eduardo Ermita told reporters gathered in Manila, the BBC reported.

The British broadcaster said the move was accompanied by the arrest of the head of a powerful local political clan and several other family members as troops staged raids on the group's compounds Friday.

Officials said powerful Maguindanao leader Andal Ampatuan Sr., and one of his sons, Zaldy, the governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, were arrested for questioning in connection with the Nov. 23 attack on a political rival's convoy.

Andal Ampatuan Jr., had already been charged with 25 counts of murder in the case. Philippines officials said martial law was declared because they feared the armed groups backing the clan were preparing an armed insurrection.

"We felt that this is a very imminent threat, so we recommended this proclamation," armed forces head Gen. Victor Ibrado told the BBC.

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