Leftist rebels release 36 hostages in S. Philippines
DAVAO CITY, Philippines, May 5 – Leftist rebels have released 36 civilians whom they held hostage in the southern Philippine province of Compostela Valley, a military official said Monday.
Captain Ernest Carolina, the spokesman of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said negotiations are ongoing to release three others who are still being held captive by the NPA.
“The three hostages are all adult males,” Carolina told Xinhua by text message.
He said 26 of the hostages were allowed to go home on Sunday morning while 10 others were freed on Sunday afternoon.
Military officials said the victims are small-scale gold miners whom the rebels snatched at gunpoint while fleeing the assault launched by some 800 soldiers at the mining community of Mahayahay in Maragusan town, Compostela Valley province.
Authorities said the 39 hostages were used as human shields. Carolina said soldiers have already pinpointed the location of the leftist rebels but government troops could not launch a full-scale assault due to the presence of the hostages.
The NPA has been blamed for attacks against big mining companies in the minerals-rich province in recent years.
The 4,000-strong NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is fighting a leftist insurgency in 60 Philippine provinces since 1969.