Philippines expects gunmen to free hostages on Sunday

Tribal gunmen holding dozens of hostages in the southern Philippines did not free them as scheduled on Sunday, officials said.

Philippines expects gunmen to free hostages on Sunday

Tribal gunmen holding dozens of hostages in the southern Philippines did not free them as scheduled on Sunday and negotiations have resumed, officials said.

A government spokesman had said the hostages would be freed early on Sunday morning following an agreement with the kidnappers, but there was no movement from the mountain forest where the group is being held.

Alfredo Plaza, a spokesman for the Agusal del Sur provincial government, said the hostages would be freed later on Sunday but declined to give any reason for the delay.

According to police officials, the woman who had been leading negotiations had to be replaced since she was personally known to the hostage-takers. Tribal elders had begun discussions to help resolve the situation, they said.

The officials also said 42 people were being held hostage. Another four were employed by the gunmen, and had been wrongly counted among the victims, they said.

The gunmen took 71 people hostage from an elementary school and nearby homes in the Mindanao region on Thursday.

The abductors have already freed 29 of the hostages.

Negotiators had previously said the hostage-takers had demanded that murder cases against them be dropped. They have also asked police to disarm rivals from the same tribe, with whom they are feuding.

Clan wars, known locally as "rido", are common in the south.



Reuters

Last Mod: 13 Aralık 2009, 14:45
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