MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine defense chief says a deadly three-week standoff between government troops and Muslim rebels who held nearly 200 people hostage has ended with all of the captives safe.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told The Associated Press by telephone Saturday that only a handful of Moro National Liberation Front rebels remained hiding and were being hunted by troops in the coastal outskirts of Zamboanga city in the south of the country. Authorities were trying to determine if rebel commander Habier Malik, who led the Sept. 9 siege, was among those killed, according to Gazmin.

Gazmin says 195 hostages were rescued, escaped or were freed.

The military says more than 200 people were killed in the clashes, including 166 rebels.

 

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