Skip to main content

Police chief abducted by Muslim rebels in Philippines is freed

From Kathy Quiano, CNN
September 18, 2013 -- Updated 0259 GMT (1059 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The local police chief was talking with rebels when he was abducted
  • He re-emerges later, bringing with him 23 suspected rebels who surrendered
  • Authorities estimate that more than 100 people have been killed during the crisis
  • The unrest in and around Zamboanga City has displaced more than 80,000 people

(CNN) -- The police chief of a city in the southern Philippines was briefly held captive Tuesday by Muslim rebels who have been fighting security forces for the past several days.

Senior Superintendent Jose Chiquito Malayo was negotiating with the rebels for the release of more civilians Tuesday morning "when he was himself abducted at gunpoint and held hostage by the rebel group," the Philippine National Police said.

His capture took place in a coastal area of mangroves near Zamboanga City, a major trading hub that has been paralyzed for more than a week after the rebels took large numbers of people hostage.

Malayo re-emerged later Tuesday, bringing with him 23 suspected rebels who had surrendered, officials said.

That drama came on the same day that authorities announced significant progress against the rebels. Officials said that about 150 hostages had been rescued.

Reporter: Not sure if my home is standing

Helicopters fire rockets at Muslim rebels in siege

It was unclear how many people remained captive.

Since Friday, the Philippine armed forces have been carrying out an operation to try to "constrict" the rebels, who came ashore early last week and took as many as 180 hostages in several coastal districts. Military attack helicopters fired rockets at rebel positions Monday.

The recent violence has significantly disrupted life in Zamboanga, a mainly Christian city on the southwestern tip of Mindanao, the southernmost island in the Philippines.

The crisis has increased fears of instability in a region where the Philippine central government is pursuing a new peace plan after decades of unrest.

President Benigno Aquino III and other top Philippine officials are overseeing authorities' response.

Authorities estimate the violence has left more than 100 people dead, most of them rebels, and displaced more than 80,000 residents.

Military officials say they have captured scores of rebels and handed them over to police.

No truce: Army, Islamic militants fight on in Philippines

The unrest has also closed schools and businesses. Hundreds of houses have caught fire during the fighting. Authorities have accused the rebels of deliberately starting the fires.

The rebels are believed to be a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front, a separatist movement founded in 1971 by Nur Misuari with the aim of establishing an autonomous region for Muslims in the mainly Catholic Philippines. The MNLF signed a peace deal with the central government in Manila in 1996, but some of its members have broken away to continue a violent campaign.

Last month, Misuari issued a "declaration of independence" for the Moro nation -- referring to Mindanao's indigenous Muslim population -- after complaining that the MNLF had been left out of a recent wealth-sharing agreement with another insurgent group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has fought for decades to set up an independent Islamic state on resource-rich Mindanao.

CNN's Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
ISIS has made surprise gains in Iraq and Syria in recent months, but may begin to suffer setbacks on the battlefield.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
The fear of Russian invasion is receding but peace may still be tricky to find.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
Convicted match fixer Wilson Raj Perumal boasts to CNN of fixing World Cup games adding: "I was on the bench and telling players what to do, giving orders to the coach."
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0815 GMT (1615 HKT)
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0934 GMT (1734 HKT)
"Princess Fragrant" is the latest effort to foster harmony in China's restive Xinjiang region.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The signs exist that indicate U.S. airstrikes into Syria are on the way.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0340 GMT (1140 HKT)
AC360 looks back at the most moving moments from Michael Brown's funeral.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0244 GMT (1044 HKT)
The mother of a hostage freed after two years captivity says it's not time to party.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0600 GMT (1400 HKT)
"I just love it when I get milk-to-dark converts," says Kerrin Rousset, before she leads a small cocoa-hungry crowd through Zurich's Old Town.
ADVERTISEMENT