The rebels, suspected to be members of the Moro National Liberation Front, killed six people and injured dozens more Monday after attacking villages and taking dozens hostages in the largely Christian Zamboanga City after arriving there in a number of boats, authorities said. A standoff followed after Philippine naval personnel fought with the rebels.
Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said about 170 civilians were still being held hostage by members of the Nur Misuari-led faction of the MNLF, ABS-CBN News reported.
Those killed Monday reportedly included a navy person, a policeman and four civilians. The city is located is located on the southern coast of Mindanao, the southernmost island in the Philippines, scene of much Muslim separatist violence in the past.
Six hostages, including five children and an adult, were released from Talon Talon following negotiations with a team led by a police official, the Philippine Inquirer News reported quoting Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca as saying.
The report quoted the military as saying the rebels were requesting water and bread.
There were also reports of renewed fighting Tuesday.
ABS-CBN quoted the Coast Guard that some rebels also fired mortars at the Zamboanga City port.
The mayor said the city government was letting the military and the police handle the negotiations with the rebels.
The villages affected by the violence included Santa Catalina, Santa Barbara, Talon-talon, Mampang and Kasanyangan.
Philippines' civil aviation authorities have declared the city a "no fly zone" because of the violence.
The MNLF, founded in 1971, had fought for an autonomous region for the Muslims in the country. The group signed a peace deal with the Philippines government in 1996 but some of its members have since broken away from the group to continue its campaign.
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