Christmas massacre

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The Independent Online
COTABATO CITY (Reuter) - Muslim bandits killed 18 Catholic church-workers as they met on Christmas Day, the Philippines army said yesterday.

Soldiers are searching for the killers in the jungle around the towns of Carmen and Pikit in North Cotabato province, about 560 miles south of Manila. An army spokesman said the victims were holding a meeting with other Catholic church-workers in a school in Carmen when the bandits burst into the room and opened fire. Sixteen people were killed immediately and two others died later in hospital.

The army is checking reports that the massacre was a revenge attack after government militiamen killed several Muslim farmers while they were worshipping in a mosque in Pikit on Thursday.

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