The Armed Forces has deployed military units to cordon off the five barangays in
Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP public information office chief, said a sufficient military presence has been placed in Barangays Sta. Catalina, Talon-Talon, Sta. Barbara, Mariki and Rio Hondo, all in
He added these troops are backed up by "armor and air assets."
An estimated 200 to 300 rogue MNLF members are believed to have holed in in the barangays.
Zagala said an estimated 20 civilians in Cataingan, Barangay Catalina are believed to be held hostage by the MNLF.
The AFP public affairs office chief said these civilians were last spotted by troops cordoning the area around 8 a.m. Monday.
Zagala declined to comment on what prompted these MNLF members to stage their attack on
"Our focus right now is for the safe recovery of the hostaged civilians," he added.
Zagala also stated that they also have received reports that the MNLF has killed two civilians and wounded four others during their initial attacks.
The first encounter between the military and the MNLF started around 1:45 a.m. near Barangay Rio Hondo.
A member of the Naval Special Operations Group was killed while another six were wounded in the 10-minute firefight.