Philippines military frees final hostages, still pursuing rebels
September 27, 2013 -- Updated 1728 GMT (0128 HKT)
Soldiers carry the flag-draped coffin of policemen who died at the Zamboanga rebel attack in Mindanao. The coffins arrive at Villamor airbase in Manila on September 25. Fighting between rebels and soldiers in the city has entered its third week.
Deadly fighting in the Philippines
- Philippines military says all hostages freed from separatist group in Zamboanga
- Troops killed 15 rebels, freed six hostages in overnight fighting, spokesman says
- The military says it's sweeping the region for any remaining rebels
(CNN) -- The hostage standoff between Philippines forces and separatist rebels is over, a military spokesman said Friday.
Government forces killed 15 of the rebels and rescued six hostages in fighting that began Thursday and lasted into early Friday, Armed Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.
The freed hostages told troops they believe no one else is being held by the separatist group, the Moro National Liberation Front, which took 180 people hostage in the coastal city of Zamboanga more than two weeks ago.
Efforts to negotiate the hostages' release failed, resulting in intense bursts of fighting that had left 158 people dead as of Thursday, including 125 members of the MNLF, the government-run Philippines News Agency said.
Reporter: Not sure if my home is standing
Philippine forces, rebels resume clash
Troops have captured 186 rebels and are now in a clearing operation to sweep the region of any remaining rebels, Zagala said.
"We have severely diminished the numbers of the faction, but we will not rest until we have cleared the area," he said.
The rebels are part of the MNLF, 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.
At least 3 dead in Philippines bombing
CNN's Tim Schwarz, Kathy Quiano and Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0254 GMT (1054 HKT)
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0024 GMT (0824 HKT)
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0822 GMT (1622 HKT)
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.