|Terror grips Philippine city, six slain
Philippine troops were locked in a standoff with hundreds of Muslim gunmen who killed six people and took at least 20 hostages in the south on Monday in a bid to derail peace talks.
Armored troops surrounded the southern port city of Zamboanga after between 200 and 300 Moro National Liberation Front gunmen entered six coastal villages on its outskirts before dawn, the military said.
“We want an independent Mindanao,'' one of the gunmen, Asamin Hussin, told local ABS-CBN television, referring to the southern third of the country.
The attack came as the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which split from MNLF in 1978, prepared to resume peace talks.
The city of nearly one million people woke to loud pre-dawn explosions as security forces exchanged fire with the gunmen, who were still holding their ground as night fell.
Heavily armed soldiers and police streamed into the streets firing machine guns at the rebels, sending terrified residents running from their homes clutching small children and scant belongings, ABS-CBN footage showed.
Zamboanga mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said two military men and four civilians had been killed, 24 people were wounded, and 1,500 others fled their homes.—AFP