ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Philippine forces freed scores of civilian hostages on Tuesday as fighting subsided in a port city where hundreds of rogue Muslim guerrillas have been battling for more than a week.
The fighting, in which nearly 100 people have been killed, has highlighted lingering grievances in the Catholic-majority country despite its growing economy and an agreement with the biggest Muslim rebel group that was meant to bring peace.
The guerrillas who stormed into the city of Zamboanga on Monday last week belong to a breakaway faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
They object to a deal aimed at ending 40 years of conflict signed last October with the main Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and are trying to derail it.
An army spokesman said on Tuesday the guerrillas were fleeing from Zamboanga and heading to outlying islands, off the main southern island of Mindanao.