Muslim rebels opposed to peace talks with the Philippine government released nine teachers and four village officials on Tuesday a day after taking hostages in an attack on a southern town that killed 10 people, including a civilian who was decapitated, officials said.
This week’s violence came as government troops battled the last few dozen gunmen from another Muslim rebel group, the Moro National Liberation Front, which on September 9 took more than 100 civilians hostage and occupied areas of Zamboanga city.
In the latest attack on Monday, fighters of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters assaulted an outpost of unarmed government militiamen in Midsayap town in North Cotabato province and seized more than a dozen hostages. As army troops closed in, clashes broke out and the rebels used their captives as human shields, said regional military spokesmen Col. Dickson Hermoso said. Four soldiers and four rebels were killed, he said.
Troops on Tuesday recovered the bodies of two civilians, one of whom was decapitated and another shot in the head, said another military spokesman, Col. Dickson Hermoso.
Some hostages later escaped or were freed by the troops, while the remaining nine teachers and four officials were set free at 4:45 a.m. today, the military said.
“The rebels suddenly arrived there. Some were not even wearing their uniforms and just changed into their uniforms there,” Loreto Cabaya, a member of the North Cotabato provincial board, told GMA News TV network.