The hostages - 11 teachers, a 10—year—old girl and a motorcycle driver - were seized by five Manobo tribesmen last Friday in a remote southern town in Agusan del Sur province on Mindanao Island.

Armed tribesmen on Wednesday released 13 hostages they had held for six days in a jungle hide—out in the southern Philippines to demand the release of jailed relatives, police said.

The hostages - 11 teachers, a 10—year—old girl and a motorcycle driver - were seized by five Manobo tribesmen last Friday in a remote southern town in Agusan del Sur province on Mindanao Island.

The hostage—takers were demanding the release of tribal leader Jobert “Ondo” Perez, who was jailed with three other tribesmen for taking 79 people captive in the same place in 2009 over a long—running clan feud.

Mr. Perez was temporarily released earlier in the week to help end the standoff, and officials promised the gunmen they’d speed up the resolution of his case.

Police operations officer Joel Dolon Mendez said the gunmen abandoned their captives early Wednesday and then escaped. “The hostages walked to a safe area and were secured by our forces,” he told The Associated Press by phone.

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo credited the release to a threat by authorities to launch a rescue if the hostages were harmed.

“It was a mix of negotiating and showing that if necessary, we’ll employ force. My suspicion is that pressured them to abandon the hostages,” Mr. Robredo said.

He said about 100 police and army special forces had been deployed to the mountainous area where the hostages were held.

The hostages were haggard—looking “but they’re all OK,” said regional police Chief Reynaldo Rafal. “I know one child was sick, but the child is OK.”

They were undergoing medical checkups and debriefings, while police pursued the fleeing hostage—takers, Mr. Mendez said.

In Manila last August, the hostage—taking of a busload of Hong Kong tourists ended in disaster with the death of eight of the captives. The kidnapper - a dismissed policeman who wanted his job back - was shot to death by police commandos.

In the southern Philippines, clan feuds, fuelled by weak law enforcement in remote regions awash with illegal firearms, have often erupted into deadly clashes and ransom kidnappings. The violence underscores the complexity of security problems in the south, where troops have been battling Muslim and communist insurgents, along with al—Qaiea—linked militants, for years.

In 2009, Mr. Perez and three others avoided arrest on murder charges and held 79 people hostage for four days. The hostages were freed after intervention by Manobo tribal elders, but Mr. Perez and his relatives were arrested, angering other clan members.

Mr. Rafal said the latest hostage crisis was prompted by the same clan feud involving Mr. Perez’s family that caused the 2009 ordeal, a conflict over land that passes through a logging route.

Mr. Robredo said he will order authorities to start disarming people carrying illegal firearms to avoid similar situations.

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