Hostages held in south Philippines

Schoolchildren among group of civilians seized by gunmen on island of Mindanao.

    The hostages were seized early on Thursday during a raid on a village in Agusan Del Sur province

    Police were reportedly pursuing the gunmen, who appeared to be using the hostages as human shields to escape after a clash with authorities in a nearby village on
    Wednesday.

    Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas, reporting from Manila, said it was unclear what the group wanted although police say there is no political or religious motive for the kidnapping.

    She said the group was known to local police having been armed by the Philippines government a decade ago to fight against communist insurgents in the area.

    Extortion

    The group is similar to the force suspected by authorities of carrying out last month's massacre of 57 political activists and journalists in a nearby province, also on the island of Mindanao.

    Jaime Milla, a local police official, told the Associated Press the gunmen believed to be behind Thursday's kidnappings were former militiamen who had been dismissed and turned to banditry and extortion.

    He said the gang was known to have previously targeted mining and logging companies in Agusan del Sur and nearby provinces.

    Our correspondent said that last month's massacre and now Thursday's kidnappings had many Filipinos questioning whether it was a good idea to arm these groups in the first place, when the army should have been fighting the insurgents.

    "People are saying this was a monster the government had created, and it's now come back to bite them," she said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Cricket World Cup 2019 Quiz: How many runs can you score?

    Cricket World Cup 2019 Quiz: How many runs can you score?

    Pick your team and answer as many correct questions in three minutes.

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19,278 air raids across Yemen.

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    No, it wasn't because of WMDs, democracy or Iraqi oil. The real reason is much more sinister than that.