Filipino rebels hold on to hostages amid standoff

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AP) — About 200 Muslim rebels are holding scores of hostages as human shields in a high-profile standoff with government forces that has dragged on for the second day.

More battle-ready troops and police were flown Tuesday to the southern port city of Zamboanga in a bid to end the crisis. The troops have surrounded the Moro National Liberation Front guerrillas and their hostages in four coastal villages since the crisis erupted Monday.

President Benigno Aquino III said the top priority was to ensure the safety of the hostages and Zamboanga residents.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said a crisis committee led by Zamboanga city Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco was open to negotiating with the guerrillas for the safe and unconditional release of the hostages.