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Philippine Rebels Take 20 More Hostages

Philippine officials say Muslim rebels have taken 20 more civilians hostage during a second day of a standoff with the military in the southern part of the country.

Police say a faction of the the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) now holds at least 170 people hostage in Zamboanga, a city on the southern island of Mindanao.

About 300 gunmen stormed villages there Monday, killing at least four people and injuring at least 14 others. Local officials say about 1,500 people have fled their homes.

President Benigno Aquino has sent representatives to negotiate with the MNLF rebels, who are seeking independence for the predominantly Muslim southern region.

The MNLF signed a peace accord with the government in 1996, but some forces eventually resumed fighting, claiming Manila went back on some of its promises.

The group's leader Nur Misuari has criticized the government's preliminary peace deal with a breakaway faction, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The peace talks with MILF, which split from MNLF 35 years ago, are set to resume this month. Many in the MNLF fear a peace deal with the government could marginalize their own group.

The southern Philippines has been mired in a four decade-long insurgency that has killed more than 150,000 people.

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