KIDAPAWAN, Philippines (AP) — The Latest on Muslim rebel attack on a southern Philippine village (all times local):
A Philippine military spokesman says gunmen who raided a southern village took five civilians to use as human shields as they retreated.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said none of the hostages taken Wednesday was a student. The gunmen who raided the village at dawn had positioned themselves inside a school as they engaged troops in a gunbattle. But the school was closed at the time.
Padilla said authorities were still trying to verify if the civilians had been freed or not. He added that a spokesman for the attackers has said they did not mean to take hostages and the civilians were taken only to help cover their withdrawal.
Padilla said no one has been reported hurt, the situation has been addressed, and the gunmen have retreated.
Muslim rebels have raided a southern Philippine village and positioned themselves in a school as they engaged troops in a gunbattle officials say may be an attempt to disrupt the massive military offensive in besieged Marawi city.
Police Chief Inspector Realan Mamon told The Associated Press by telephone that gunmen from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters raided the village of Malagakit in North Cotabato province at dawn and engaged government forces in a firefight. Villagers fled to safety.
Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the gunmen targeted an army outpost and a patrol base of pro-government militiamen, who fired back and were later reinforced by army troops.