Philippine rebels exchange fire with govt troops despite truce effort
ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AP) - Muslim rebels holding more than 100 people hostage in the southern Philippines exchanged gunfire with government troops on Saturday despite efforts by the country's Vice-President to arrange a ceasefire and end the six-day standoff.
The stand-off began on Monday when about 200 fighters from a Moro National Liberation Front rebel faction stormed several coastal communities in Zamboanga city and seized residents. The military says 22 people, including 15 rebels, have since been killed in sporadic clashes between the guerrillas and troops who have surrounded them.
Vice-President Jejomar Binay said rebel leader Nur Misuari agreed to a truce late on Friday by telephone, and he relayed the news to Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who has been helping deal with the crisis in Zamboanga city, a major port. Mr Binay said he planned to fly to Zamboanga on Saturday to help the negotiations.
But Mr Gazmin said the rebels have continued to fire in violation of the agreement.