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Teachers relieved as hostages freed

Police ssearching for gang protesting against jailing of their leader

Teachers relieved as hostages freed
Police launch pursuit operations against the hostage-takers (photo: Froilan Gallardo)
Julian Labores, Manila

April 7, 2011

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Government and teachers' groups have expressed relief at the peaceful end to a hostage drama in Mindanao after the remaining 13 victims, teachers and students, were released yesterday unharmed. A total of 16 people were snatched on April 1 by a group of Manobo tribesmen protesting the jailing of their leader who was himself convicted of taking hostages. Earlier, Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of Butuan had said he was confident that the drama in his diocese would end peacefully. "Don’t worry about these matters because, actually, we can handle it," the prelate said. The group abandoned the 13 people they had been holding in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, according to local media reports. Previously they had let three go. Interior secretary Jesse Robredo said no ransom was paid for the release of the hostages. He said a manhunt has been launched for the hostage-takers. Police in Agusan province, meanwhile, said the hostage-takers were last reported seen heading to Surigao del Sur province. The Teachers' Dignity Coalition commended the efforts made by authorities to free the hostages. "We are happy for them and we thank all those who joined us in prayers," said Benjo Basas, chairman of the group. PM13891.1648
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