Gunmen release hostages and bishop in Philippines

.- Gunmen in the Philippines released 13 hostages yesterday, including a Catholic bishop, after having kidnapped them the day before in the southern region of the country. Bishop Emmanuel Treveno Cabajar of Pagadian was among the 13 hostages released unharmed.  He had been serving as mediator between the government and the captors.

The three gunmen hijacked a bus on Tuesday as it approached a police checkpoint in southern Misamis Occidental province. Police later agreed to let the gunmen escape if they agreed to free the passengers.

As part of the agreement, the gunmen demanded they be given a pick-up truck and that Bishop Cabajar join them as a human shield, in return pledging to release all of the hostages once they reached safety, police and officials said. Cabajar agreed, even though top police officials had advised against the move.

The gunmen departed in the pick-up truck with Bishop Cabajar inside and the hostages piled in back, and later released all the captives, officials said.

The gunmen abandoned the bishop in the remote town of Lakewood south of Pagadian where the bishop offered a Mass of thanksgiving.


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