A Catholic priest was among some 250 civilians taken hostage by rebel Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga on Monday, reports Ucanews.
Monsignor Chris Manongas, administrator of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, said Father Michael Ufana was taken by MNLF gunmen from his parents’ house. 'They were not able to leave. The [MNLF] took over the house. That’s how it happened,' he said.
The Mindanao Human Rights Action Center corroborated the report, citing an eyewitness who saw the taking of Ufana. Police officials confirmed Ufana was taken hostage.
Another Catholic priest, whose name was not released for security reasons, was also trapped in one of the villages taken over by the MNLF.
Manongas told Ucanews.com he was able to talk with the second priest over the phone. 'He is inside the church with some refugees. He said they have no food and water,' said MsgrManongas. '[We are] having difficulty penetrating the place because it is cordoned off by the military. It is very dangerous because the fighting is around the church.'
Thousands of refugees, most of them Muslims from five villages taken over by MNLF fighters, have sought shelter in three churches in the area.
Photo: Soliders patrol Zamboanga City following the MNLF assault