Skip to main content

Police chief abducted by Muslim rebels in Philippines is freed

From Kathy Quiano, CNN
updated 10:59 PM EDT, Tue September 17, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The local police chief was talking with rebels when he was abducted
  • He re-emerges later, bringing with him 23 suspected rebels who surrendered
  • Authorities estimate that more than 100 people have been killed during the crisis
  • The unrest in and around Zamboanga City has displaced more than 80,000 people

(CNN) -- The police chief of a city in the southern Philippines was briefly held captive Tuesday by Muslim rebels who have been fighting security forces for the past several days.

Senior Superintendent Jose Chiquito Malayo was negotiating with the rebels for the release of more civilians Tuesday morning "when he was himself abducted at gunpoint and held hostage by the rebel group," the Philippine National Police said.

His capture took place in a coastal area of mangroves near Zamboanga City, a major trading hub that has been paralyzed for more than a week after the rebels took large numbers of people hostage.

Malayo re-emerged later Tuesday, bringing with him 23 suspected rebels who had surrendered, officials said.

That drama came on the same day that authorities announced significant progress against the rebels. Officials said that about 150 hostages had been rescued.

Reporter: Not sure if my home is standing

Helicopters fire rockets at Muslim rebels in siege

It was unclear how many people remained captive.

Since Friday, the Philippine armed forces have been carrying out an operation to try to "constrict" the rebels, who came ashore early last week and took as many as 180 hostages in several coastal districts. Military attack helicopters fired rockets at rebel positions Monday.

The recent violence has significantly disrupted life in Zamboanga, a mainly Christian city on the southwestern tip of Mindanao, the southernmost island in the Philippines.

The crisis has increased fears of instability in a region where the Philippine central government is pursuing a new peace plan after decades of unrest.

President Benigno Aquino III and other top Philippine officials are overseeing authorities' response.

Authorities estimate the violence has left more than 100 people dead, most of them rebels, and displaced more than 80,000 residents.

Military officials say they have captured scores of rebels and handed them over to police.

No truce: Army, Islamic militants fight on in Philippines

The unrest has also closed schools and businesses. Hundreds of houses have caught fire during the fighting. Authorities have accused the rebels of deliberately starting the fires.

The rebels are believed to be a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front, 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.

Last month, Misuari issued a "declaration of independence" for the Moro nation -- referring to Mindanao's indigenous Muslim population -- after complaining that the MNLF had been left out of a recent wealth-sharing agreement with another insurgent group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has fought for decades to set up an independent Islamic state on resource-rich Mindanao.

CNN's Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:50 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Experts believe that ISIS may be using a Spanish enclave to bring jihad to Europe.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
With an efficient subway, inexpensive taxis and a good public bus system, Hong Kong is normally an easy city to navigate ...
updated 7:32 PM EDT, Sun September 28, 2014
CNN's Ivan Watson was in the middle of a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong when things got out of hand.
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The world's animal population has halved in 40 years as humans put unsustainable demands on Earth, a new report warns.
updated 8:49 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Every day, refugees and migrants risk their lives as they seek a new life. Now, a new report puts a figure to the number of victims.
updated 10:42 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mainstream commentators must promote positive role models to Muslims feeling victimized, writes Ghaffar Hussain.
updated 2:13 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Two men familiar with inside knowledge of ISIS speak with CNN's Arwa Damon.
Explore CNN's interactive that explains ISIS' roots, what it controls, and where its support comes from.
updated 4:10 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
In his first-ever interview as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani defended his country against allegations of funding terrorism.
updated 11:03 AM EDT, Sat September 27, 2014
The North Korean leader hasn't been seen for weeks, leading to speculation that he is in poor health.
updated 9:54 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Haider al-Abadi hopes airstrikes don't lead to "of another terrorist element" instead of ISIS.
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
The United States couldn't do it on its first try. Neither could the Soviets.
updated 11:29 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
CNN's Nima Elbagir reflects on a harrowing trip to Liberia where she covered the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.
updated 10:23 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Contrary to public opinion, rats can actually save lives -- Apopo's rats have actually saved thousands.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
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.
ADVERTISEMENT