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VICE News

Suspect in Deadliest Election-Related Philippine Massacre Killed

Muktar Kindo Santo was wanted in connection with the November 2009 bloodbath that took the lives of 58 people — including 32 journalists.

by Leezel Tanglao
Jun 24 2014, 12:45am

Photo via AP

A suspect in the 2009 election-related massacre of nearly 60 people in the southern Philippines was killed today in a gunfight, according to authorities.

Muktar Kindo Santo was wanted in connection with the November 2009 bloodbath that took the lives of 58 people — including 32 journalists and the family members of the incumbent governor Maguindanao province, Esmael Mangudadatu.

Santo was killed, along with two of his associates for resisting arrest in Cotabato City, police said.

VICE on HBO travels to the Philippines to explore the rampant political violence during election season: Watch the video here.

Senior Superintendent and Police Chief Rolen Balquin said police and Santo engaged in a deadly gunfight after failing to surrender, according to Gulf Today.

"We received information from intelligence regarding the whereabouts of this suspect. We were greeted by a gunshot upon approaching the rented house, thus starting a shoot-out," said Balquin, according to the South China Morning Post.

Authorities said there are still at least 80 people still wanted for their involvement in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre — which is considered the deadliest election-related attack in the country’s history.

Mangudadatu’s family, along with a group of journalists were on their way to file candidate papers when they were attacked and killed on Nov. 23, 2009.

Rival Filipino clans finally decide to choose peace over bloodshed. Read more here.

The massacre was blamed on the rival political clan connected to ex-Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan.

Ampatuan and his associates are currently facing multiple murders charges.

VICE on HBO traveled to the Philippines in 2012 and interviewed Mangudadatu, who at the time was running for re-election. He recounted the deadly 2009 incident.

“That’s the very darkest moment in my life. The pain that came into my heart, and to my family,” he said.

The Maguindanao massacre makes the Philippines one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.