Philippine troops took the patriarch of a powerful clan - a former governor - and three other members of his family into custody Saturday after the president put his southern province under martial law to hunt down suspects in the country's worst political violence.
The head of the clan, Andal Ampatuan Sr., and at least six other family members who have ruled impoverished Maguindanao province unopposed for years are the main suspects in the Nov. 23 attack on a political rival's convoy in which 57 people, including 30 journalists, were killed. The family has denied involvement.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Saturday put Maguindanao under martial law, allowing troops to make arrests without court warrants and restore order, her top Cabinet member, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, announced.
It was the first time that martial law has been declared in the country since the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos imposed it nationwide in 1972, paving the way for his one-man rule that ended with his ouster in 1986.