Philippine bishops call for release of hostages

October 7, 2013

Bishops in southern Philippines have condemned rebels’ use of hostages as human shields in gunfights with government troops.

The gunfights have escalated since Sept. 9 after hundreds of Moro National Liberation Front fighters reportedly attacked government troops who were securing five coastal districts in Zamboanga.

The military reported Sept. 13 that at least 18 people had been killed, 11 of them rebels and the rest were soldiers, policemen and two civilians.

Among the more than 100 hostages held by the rebels was Father Michael Ufana, who was visiting family members in Santa Catalina when the MNLF members arrived.

Ufana was freed Sept. 13. However, the rebels continued to hold his father and scores of other hostages.