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UN Envoy: Philippine Soldiers Behind Significant Number of Political Killings


A United Nations envoy investigating hundreds of political killings in the Philippines says the armed forces appear to be responsible for a significant number of the deaths.

The U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Philip Alston, says the armed forces are in a state of "almost total denial" about killings "convincingly attributed" to them.

He spoke Wednesday in the Philippine capital, Manila, following a 10-day investigation. Alston said he could not confirm the exact number of killings.

A local human rights group, Karapatan, says at least 830 political, labor, and human rights activists have been killed since President Gloria Arroyo came to power in 2001.

A government report has blamed rogue soldiers and communist rebels for most of the violence.

Philippine officials say the findings of that report will be released Thursday.

Alston says that explanation is not good enough and is urging the military to conduct a serious investigation of the killings.

President Arroyo invited Alston to conduct the investigation, saying she is committed to ending political violence.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.