[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Rebels take Manila official hostage
The Moro National Liberation Front wants its jailed founder released in exchange.
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2007 06:12 GMT
The  conflict between Islamic separatists and the government has killed over 120,000 people [AFP]
Muslim separatists in the southern Philippines are holding Manila's military chief, the head of the government's truce panel, a colonel and an undetermined number of soldiers hostage.
Military sources said on Saturday that the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) refuses to let Brigadier-General Ben Dolorfino, the chief of military forces in the capital, and Ramon Santos, undersecretary for the peace process with the MNLF, leave their camp until its jailed founder was released.

Local media reported that more than 20 senior military, defence and government officials were being held at the MNLF's camp near Panamao town on Jolo island, 950 km south of Manila but senior military sources, who declined to be identified, would only confirm three hostages.

 

Dolorfino, a Muslim convert who had flown to Jolo for talks with the MNLF, told reporters by text message that he was safe.

   

"Sorry I can't comment. Just wait for the policymakers to speak," he said.

   

A military spokesman declined to comment.

 

The governor of Sulu, an archipelago that includes Jolo, said a local MNLF commander, Habier Malik, had refused to allow Dolorfino, Santos and 11 others to leave on Friday until their leader, Nur Misuari, was released from detention in Manila.

   

Misuari was jailed in 2002 for rebellion after the breakdown of a peace deal the MNLF signed with the government in 1996.

   

The Philippines is a largely Catholic country but has a sizeable Muslim minority in the south, where a decades-old conflict between Islamic separatists and government troops has killed over 120,000 people.

   

Dolorfino, former deputy commander of the Philippines's southern forces, is the highest-ranked Muslim in the armed forces.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Venezuela's president lacks the charisma and cult of personality maintained by the late Hugo Chavez.
Despite the Geneva deal, anti-government protesters in Ukraine's eastern regions don't intend to leave any time soon.
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
join our mailing list