Hostage crisis ‘resolved’ after pro-Islamic State militants storm school: Philippines military

Hostage crisis ‘resolved’ after pro-Islamic State militants storm school: Philippines military

Philippine army May 30
A Philippine soldier watches as an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) drives past at a checkpoint set up on a highway in Balo-i on the southern island of Mindanao, as security forces traded heavy gunfire with Islamist militants inside a southern city. (TED ALJIBE/AFP)

MANILA: A hostage drama that unfolded at a primary school in the southern Philippines on Wednesday has been resolved, a military spokesman said, and the Pro-Islamic State militants who had held people captive had withdrawn with no reports of casualties. 

"It's already resolved," Brigadier General Restituto Padilla told reporters. "They've withdrawn, they are no longer there. The school area is again safe."

However, Padilla also said the military was investigating whether five civilians were still being held by the militants. He said no children had been taken hostage.

A police report earlier said about 300 armed men, among them members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), stormed a school in Pigcawayan town in North Cotabato province on Mindanao island and were holding some students captive.

Members of the BIFF were engaged in a gunbattle with the military, Chief Inspector Realan Mamon, the police chief at Pigcawayan, said in a radio interview.

"We can confirm that they occupied a school and there were civilians trapped. We are in the process of determining how many were trapped and their identities," Mamon said.

Pigcawayan is 190km south of Marawi City, where BIFF militants, along with fighters from other groups allied to Islamic State, have been holed up and fighting the Philippines military since May 23.

Eliseo Garcesa, mayor of Pigcawayan town, told Philippine radio he was still seeking information about possible casualties.

Philippine aircraft and troops launched a renewed push against the militants in Marawi City on Tuesday and a military spokesman said the aim was to clear the area by the weekend Eid festival, although there was no deadline.

Source: Reuters/rw