Muslim rebels attack southern town, seize hostages

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A group of Muslim rebels opposed to peace talks with the Philippine government has stormed a southern town and seized several hostages while battling security forces.

The military reported the rebels attacked Midsayap township Monday and triggered clashes with government forces. As troops closed in, the withdrawing rebels split into several groups and took four teachers and 11 farmers hostage.

Some hostages were later released and it wasn’t clear how many are still held. One soldier was killed.

The attackers belong to Bangasamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a breakaway faction of a large rebel group that has signed a peace agreement in exchange for autonomy for minority Muslims in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation.

The violence came as troops clear another southern city of separate rebels who took hostages Sept. 9.

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