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Updated: December 13, 2009 18:26 IST

Gunmen free 47 hostages in Philippines

AP
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Two hostage-takers, former government-armed militiamen led by Joebert 'Ondo' Perez, pose at a remote village in Prosperidad township, Agusan del Sur province in southern Philippines,on Saturday, Fifteen dismissed militiamen who turned bandits took more than 70 villagers hostage on Thursday after police tried to arrest them on murder charges. They released 28 but demanded that the charges be dropped before freeing the others. Photo: AP.
Two hostage-takers, former government-armed militiamen led by Joebert 'Ondo' Perez, pose at a remote village in Prosperidad township, Agusan del Sur province in southern Philippines,on Saturday, Fifteen dismissed militiamen who turned bandits took more than 70 villagers hostage on Thursday after police tried to arrest them on murder charges. They released 28 but demanded that the charges be dropped before freeing the others. Photo: AP.

Philippines: Officials say gunmen have freed the 47 hostages they were holding at a southern Philippine jungle hideout, in exchange for a government pledge they will not be arrested for past murder charges.

Vice Governor Santiago Cane of Agusan del Sur province, said the hostages left the remote jungle encampment on Sunday in Agusan del Sur province aboard two army trucks. The gunmen then surrendered their assault rifles, grenades and ammunition.

Mr. Cane said Joebert Perez, leader of the hostage-takers, signed an agreement with government negotiators to free the hostages in exchange for a pledge that he and his men will not be arrested for past murder charges arising from a violent dispute with a rival clan over land.

The hostages are being taken to hospital for a check-up.

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