Rebels in southern Philippines call for international mediation
ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AP) - Muslim rebels holding scores of hostages in the southern Philippines are demanding international mediation, an official said on Wednesday, as fresh rounds of fire broke out between government troops and the guerrillas on the third day of the standoff.
The rebels, enraged by a broken peace deal with the government, are holding the civilian hostages as human shields near the port city of Zamboanga. Troops have surrounded the Moro National Liberation Front guerrillas and their hostages in four coastal villages.
At least nine people have been killed since the standoff began Monday.
On Tuesday, the rebels fired two mortar rounds near the main port, prompting authorities to order vessels to dock elsewhere. The government rushed more troops and police to the city, and there were sporadic exchanges of fire. Some houses went up in flames in rebel-held villages, forcing more residents to flee.