Philippine rebels release Catholic priest

soldiers on patrol

Rebel fighters have released a captive Catholic priest in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga. Father Michael Ufana was taken hostage when the rebels attacked five villages in the city on Monday, reports Ucanews.

The MNLF still has more than 100 other hostages including the priest's father and sister, as fighting between government troops and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) entered its fifth day on Friday.

Monsignor Crisologo Manongas, administrator of Zamboanga archdiocese, said Fr Ufana was released 'to deliver the demands of the armed group that are still holding the rest of the hostages.'

One of the demands is safe passage out of Zamboanga for the rebels, according to a security source. Fr Ufana's release came hours before President Benigno Aquino arrived in Zamboanga City to personally view the situation. 

The president's visit came amid reports that some members of the MNLF were planning to surrender. Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, however, denied the reports, adding that negotiations are still ongoing. Civil society and human rights groups have called on both sides to immediately declare a ceasefire and 'delineate a humanitarian corridor where civilians and injured combatants may be safely assisted.'

FULL STORY Philippine rebels release Catholic priest

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