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2 hostages in Zamboanga crisis rescued, 2 hurt in M-79 explosions

At least two people held hostage by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) were rescued while two other people were injured by a projectile explosion in Zamboanga City on the 15th day of a standoff there between government forces and the rebel group.

Philippine Army 7th Civil Relations Group commander Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said the two hostages were rescued in Sta. Barbara village at 11 a.m.

"Two hostages were rescued by (the Army's 32nd Infantry Division) troops in Sta. Barbara at around 11 a.m. today. Salute!" he said on his Twitter account.

He added said house-to-house clearing operations are now ongoing.

On Monday afternoon, at least two other people were "slightly wounded" after M-79 projectiles exploded in the city, the city government said.

It cited initial police reports indicating four M-79 projectiles exploded in Don Toribio and Falcatan in Tetuan and in Tugbungan at 5 p.m.

Text scare

The city government also allayed fears caused by a "text scare" alleging that the MNLF would attack the Western Mindanao Command headquarters on Monday evening.

"It is just a text scare but authorities are on alert," it said.

Cabunoc also said that after a 9 a.m. clash in Sta. Barbara, troops from the 7th Scout Ranger Company seized Molotov bombs from Misuari's followers which, he said in another tweet, they used to set houses on fire.

He added the AFP's blocking forces clashed with Misuari followers who tried to escape.

Cabunoc also said government troops found drug paraphernalia in buildings occupied by Misuari's followers.

He said a captured rebel tested positive for prohibited drugs. He indicated the drug was methamphetamine hydrochloride.

"They are using Shabu to make them more ferocious and pitiless," he said.

AFP: 105 Misuari followers killed

Meanwhile, Cabunoc cited figures from AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan indicating at least 105 Misuari followers had been killed as of noon Monday.

He said 117 Misuari followers were also captured or had surrendered, while 12 soldiers were killed and 137 were wounded.

Cabunoc also said at least 79 firearms have been recovered from the rebels as of Monday noon. — BM, GMA News