Military secures 151 MNLF hostages
MANILA (3rd UPDATE) – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has secured at least 151 hostages held by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga City.
The hostages, who were earlier used by MNLF fighters under the Nur Misuari faction as "human shields," either escaped, were rescued by soldiers, or freed.
The hostages were brought to Camp Batalla in Zamboanga City and are now undergoing stress debriefing and "psycho-social processing" after being held for a week by the MNLF fighters who laid siege to the city to claim independence from the Philippine government.
Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II went outside Camp Batalla Tuesday morning to meet the waiting relatives of the hostages.
Roxas then announced the names of the secured hostages to ask for confirmation from the relatives as some MNLF rebels reportedly pretended to be hostages to avoid being apprehended.
A tactical debriefing will also be conducted among the hostages to confirm if they were indeed residents and not MNLF fighters.
On Monday night, government troops rescued 34 hostages in Barangay Sta. Catalina. Three soldiers died in the rescue operations.
At least 117 were later secured in separated operations on Tuesday morning.
At least 71 MNLF gunmen have been killed by government troops since the fighting started last week, the military said.
Another 64 separatist rebels have also been arrested.
Nine soldiers and police officers have lost their lives in the siege while 98 others were injured.
Seven civilians have been killed while 39 others were hurt. The fighting has displaced more than 72,000 people. – report from Edwin Sevidal, dzMM