Philippine hostage crisis close to end - government

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PROSPERIDAD, Philippines, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Filipino gunmen have agreed to free all 46 hostages they have held for the past two days in the southern Philippines and surrender to police, a government spokesman said on Saturday.

The hostages will be freed at 7 a.m. on Sunday (2300 GMT Saturday), Agusal del Sur provincial spokesman Alfredo Plaza told reporters.

It was not immediately known what the abductors will get in return for releasing the hostages.

The gunmen took 75 people hostage from an elementary school and nearby homes in the lawless Mindanao region on Thursday, less than three weeks after a massacre in a nearby province, throwing an unwelcome spotlight on the Southeast Asian nation ahead of a presidential election next year.

The abductors have already freed 29 of the hostages.

(Reporting by Manny Mogato; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Alex Richardson)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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