Philippine Rebels Take Hundreds Hostage
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - At least 170 people have been taken hostage in southern Philippines after fighters rampaged through coastal communities, leaving at least six people dead.
Clashes occurred after troops backed by tanks blocked fighters associated with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), from marching into Zamboanga city to raise their flag at a city hall, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said on Monday.
At least six people, including a naval soldier, were killed and about 220 civilians were taken hostage by the fighters, military officials said after the pre-dawn attack.
Zagala said the hostages, of which 170 are still being held, were being used as a "human shield".
Abdul Sahrin, secretary-general of the MNLF, blamed the faction of fighter leader Nur Misuari for carrying out the attack, Al Jazeera reported.
Misuari is a former MNLF leader, who previously entered into a peace agreement with the Philippine government.
The 11,000-strong MNLF has engaged the Philippine government in Malaysian-brokered peace talks, which have progressed recently towards a new Muslim autonomy deal.