MILF SEIZE FIVE, KILL 3 HOSTAGES

Zamboanga City, March 22, 2003 -- Dozens of Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF) rebels fleeing pursuing troops have seized five people and used them
as shield before executing three hostages in the southern Philippine town
of Buldon, officials said on Friday.

Two other hostages, one of them a one-year old girl, were shot by rebels on
Thursday in the village of Dinganen, but have survived to tell their tales,
said a regional Army spokesman Major Julieto Ando.

"The rebels earlier attacked a military post and were repelled by soldiers.
Then they seized five innocent villagers along their escape and used them
as shield against troops and later executed the hostages, probably one
after the other. Two have survived the execution and were found by
government forces," Ando told reporters.

He said the wounded were brought to hospital by soldiers.

The military also said that a radio reporter, who had been missing the past
days, was found dead in Awang village in Datu Odin Sinsuat town near
Maguindanao's Buldon town. The body of the victim, Alfata Ismail, was
wrapped in blue cellophane -- his head, face and body were all wrapped in
packaging tape when recovered by patrolling troops.

The 25-year old Ismail was working with the Radyo Ukay in Maguindanao
province when he disappeared. No group has claimed responsibility for the
killing and the military did not say if Ismail's body bore gunshot wounds
or not. It was unknown if the killing of the journalist was connected to
the fighting between security and rebel forces. (Al Jacinto, PHNO Mindanao
Bureau)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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