The Philippine military said militants who had holed up in a primary school in the south early yesterday had retreated after a gunbattle with troops, but were holding some civilians hostage.
There was no word of casualties in the incident at Pigcawayan, which is about 190km south of Marawi, where fighting between government troops and Islamic State group-linked militants has entered its fifth week.
No students were taken hostage at the school, said Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, discounting reports that some children were being held.
He said the militants had retreated from the school and troops were chasing them.
Military spokesman Captain Arvin Encinas said the militants, who call themselves the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), were holding some civilians hostage, but he was not sure how many.
“Definitely, they are holding hostages, that’s why our soldiers are having difficulty because they are using them as human shields,” Encinas said.
Police said about 300 armed men stormed the school early yesterday.
However, Encinas said later only 30 militants were involved.
BIFF spokesman Abu Misry Mama said that the militants had taken civilians to a safe place, away from any crossfire, and did not intend to hold them hostage.
Asked if they would be freed, Mama said: “Yes. We’re not kidnappers.”
Padilla said the incident at Pigcawayan was not related to the fighting in Marawi.
“This has come from a group that has long committed harassment,” he said.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference