"The incident came just a day after the Philippine police arrested a rebel leader, who is believed to be behind the killing of government troops in Davao del Sur and Cotabato provinces."
Manila, May 4 - Left rebels have taken around 40 civilians hostage in southern Philippines, officials said Sunday.

Negotiations were going on to free the hostages, Ernest Carolina, an army spokesperson, said.

The alleged hostage-taking in Compostela Valley province of Davao region started around 10 a.m. Saturday as dozens of heavily-armed New People's Army - guerrillas gathered 39 villagers, Xinhua reported.

Pat Lucero, an aide to the provincial Governor Arturo Uy, said an emergency meeting has been called Sunday for local authorities to negotiate with the rebels for the victims' safe release.

No motive seen yet -, Governor Uy told Xinhua over phone, adding that the hostage-takers also have yet to issue any demand.

The incident came just a day after the Philippine police arrested a rebel leader, who is believed to be behind the killing of government troops in Davao del Sur and Cotabato provinces.

The 4,000-strong New People's Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been fighting a leftist insurgency in 60 provinces since 1969.


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