Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Philippine tribal gunmen free teachers on Mindanao

Philippine school official Hipolito Lastimado, one of the hostages freed by the gunmen   School official Hipolito Lastimado was freed by the gunmen on 3 April

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Tribal gunmen on the Philippine island of Mindanao have freed 12 hostages, most of them teachers, five days after seizing them, police say.
The 12 were seized in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur Province, by Manobo tribesmen demanding the release of a jailed tribal leader.
They were freed after the leader was temporarily released, reports say.
Talks had been hampered by the gunmen's poor education and inability to grasp the law, officials said earlier.
A total of 15 teachers and pupils were seized in Prosperidad but a child and two adults were released soon afterwards - the adults on condition they returned with food, water and medicine for the other hostages.
The gunmen were demanding the release of tribal leader Jobert "Ondo" Perez.
BBC map
He is awaiting trial for murder and kidnapping over an incident in 2009, when 79 people were taken hostage in the same area during a clan feud.
A spokesman for the police negotiators, Senior Superintendent Nestor Fajura, said earlier that none of the gunmen had completed even primary education, meaning they had left school before the age of 10.
He said that police were trying to find a mediator who could explain to them "in terms that they can easily grasp and understand the ramifications" of their demands.
Mindanao, resource-rich but impoverished, makes up roughly the southern third of the Philippines.
Communist and Muslim insurgencies have claimed thousands of lives on the island over recent decades.

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