Ex-Filipino militiamen free 9 more hostages

/ Source: The Associated Press

Government-armed former militiamen freed nine out of 57 hostages they seized in the remote southern Philippines, and demanded that murder charges against them be dropped before releasing the other captives.

Government negotiator Josefina Bajade said the released villagers include eight women and a man.

Hours after Thursday's kidnapping, Bajade persuaded the gunmen to free the 17 schoolchildren and a woman among more than 70 people they initially held.

Police said they were trying to arrest two brothers among the gunmen on murder charges.

One of the brothers, Joebert Perez, told reporters Friday the charges are fabricated and blamed a rival clan for the killings, demanding that police disarm the rival clan before the rest of the hostages are released.