Philippine troops, Muslim rebels in standoff

Philippine troops and Muslim guerrillas separately checked a reported crime in a southern town Sunday and mistakenly thought one side was assaulting the other, resulting in a brief standoff that ended peacefully, officials and the rebels said. About 30 army troops traveled to the remote southern mountain town of Lumba Bayabao town to check a reported case of arson but found several armed rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in a village, said Col. Ronnie Javier, commander of the 103rd army Infantry Brigade. The soldiers and guerrillas pointed their assault rifles at each other but held their fire. A group of five soldiers were completely surrounded by the rebels, Javier said. Some village leaders later intervened and tried to pacify the troops and rebels, who did not move from their positions until a Malaysian-led group of cease-fire monitors arrived two hours later and broke the standoff, Javier said.