Nearly 100 Philippine rebels killed or captured
ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AP) - Philippine forces have killed or captured nearly 100 of the Muslim guerrillas who have held scores of hostages for a week in a southern city, as the government pushes ahead with an offensive to retake rebel-held coastal communities, officials said Sunday.
Army troops and police special forces have regained rebel-held grounds and are pressing an assault deeper into communities in the coastal outskirts of Zamboanga city, where more than 100 Moro National Liberation Front guerrillas are holding hostages, military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.
Several hostages have escaped or were freed, but it was unclear how many were still in rebel custody. Zamboanga City Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said the rebels were still holding up to 40 hostages in one community alone.
Zagala said troops taking part in the offensive were calibrating their firepower to avoid harming civilians.
"We're gaining ground, we're pushing forward," he said.