Sixth Philippine massacre witness killed

Police inspect the bodies in hillside grave in Ampatuan, Maguindanao province The powerful Ampatuan clan is accused of being behind the killings of 57 people in 2009

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Another potential witness in a trial over the massacre of 57 people in the Philippines has been killed, an official says.

Alijol Ampatuan is the sixth person among witnesses, potential witnesses or their relatives killed since the case went to court in 2010, said prosecutor Nena Santos.

The man was a victim of a drive-by shooting in February, she said.

He was related to the powerful Ampatuan clan, accused of the 2009 killings.

Prosecutors had wanted to approach the man, who was alleged to have sent gunmen to take part in the massacre, to testify at the trial as a state witness.

Philippine Massacre

  • Killings took place on 23 November 2009
  • About 100 men attacked an election convoy of the Mangudadatu family
  • 57 people were killed, making it the Philippines' worst case of political violence
  • Andal Ampatuan Jnr, his father, uncle and three brothers have been charged along with 191 police officers, soldiers and militia
  • However, more than 130 of the suspects remain at large

Andal Ampatuan Jr and five other members of the Ampatuan family - including patriarch Andal Ampatuan Snr - are among 196 people facing charges related to the massacre.

The dead included many female members of a rival political family, the Mangudadatus, as well as 30 reporters travelling with them.

The massacre took place as the Mangudadatu group travelled to file candidacy papers for a provincial election.

Human Rights Watch says that whoever is behind the killings is sending a clear message of intimidation.

The rights group has warned that other witnesses will not come forward if the Philippine government does not offer better protection, reports the BBC's Kate McGeown in Manila.

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