Gunmen hold 16 hostages in southern Philippines

April 2, 2011 14:16

MANILA - Gunmen kidnapped 16 people, including two children, from a school graduation in the southern Philippines to seek the release of fellow tribesmen jailed for a mass hostage-taking in late 2009, police said on Saturday.

The 16 were taken on Friday afternoon in Agusan del Sur province on Mindanao island. Police said the hostages appeared to be in good condition, and they were negotiating to deliver food.

There were about 10 gunmen, and they had threatened to kill the hostages if they were attacked, security officials said.

"There will be no rescue mission. The Caraga police support the ongoing negotiation for the peaceful resolution of the incident," Chief Inspector Nelly Villagarcia, spokesperson of the Caraga regional police, told local media.

Last August, police and security officials were heavily criticized for a botched rescue attempt of hostages on a bus in Manila. Eight Hong Kong tourists and the gunmen, a sacked police officer, died in the hijacking.

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