Unidentified gunmen kidnapped 12 people - teachers and students - in the southern Philippines on Tuesday, an army commander said.
The victims were preparing for their classes when they were seized from the elementary school San Roque village in Kolambugan town, Lanao del Norte province, 810 km south of Manila.
Colonel Edwin Respicio, an army commander in the area, said most of the hostages were female. "Male pupils were left behind as the armed men fled with the victims on foot," he said.
Respicio said the army launched a search and rescue operation for the hostages, whose identities were being verified. Authorities have yet to identify suspects or a motive for the kidnapping.
In 2005, sacked employees of a state university in the nearby province of Lanao de Sur kidnapped more than 20 teachers and students in a bid to get their jobs back.
The hostages were freed unharmed after negotiations.