News / Asia

Philippines Says Zamboanga Crisis 'Over'

Suspected Muslim rebels whom the military said were either captured or surrendered, arrive at a police station for processing in Zamboanga City, southern Philippines, Sept. 26, 2013.
Suspected Muslim rebels whom the military said were either captured or surrendered, arrive at a police station for processing in Zamboanga City, southern Philippines, Sept. 26, 2013.
Simone Orendain
The National Defense chief of the Philippines said Saturday a three-week long standoff is over between government forces and a Muslim rebel faction they say kept about 200 people as human shields in a southern port city. 

The Department of National Defense said the crisis in Zamboanga City was over, but troops are continuing operations to remove the last remaining fighters of a Moro National Liberation Front faction.

Armed Forces spokesman Brigadier General Domingo Tutaan said forces were doing a thorough search of marshlands and areas in and around Zamboanga neighborhoods where faction members positioned themselves during the standoff that began September 9.

“So it’s really clearing in the strict sense of it, of any member of the Misuari faction, who are probably hiding or holed out in the area, avoiding or trying to elude arrest," he said.

While 195 hostages are free, Tutaan said the military could not say with “100 percent” certainty that there were no more hostages in rebel hands.

More than 150 people have died in the fighting and more than two-thirds of those killed were rebel faction members. Tutaan said at least 375 rebels were involved in the incident that began after the military learned of an alleged plan by the group to hoist a separatist flag in Zamboanga City Hall. The military said the rebels then used scores of civilians as human shields.

  • Government troopers arrive to reinforce their comrades after an army officer was killed in the ongoing operation against Muslim rebels, Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • Evacuees line up to receive food as fighting between government forces and Muslim rebels continued, Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • Residents line up for a shower in a stadium turned into an evacuation center in Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept. 18, 2013.
  • Villagers who fled the fighting between government forces and Muslim rebels rest in their tents along a boulevard in Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept. 18, 2013.
  • Boats of villagers fleeing the fighting between government forces and Muslim rebels crowd a port in Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept. 18, 2013.
  • Government troops fire mortars during renewed fighting between government forces and Muslim rebels, who have taken scores of hostages, in Zamboanga city in the southern Philippines, Sept. 16, 2013.
  • Government troops prepare an assault on Muslim rebels in Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept. 13, 2013.
  • Government soldiers wearing ammunition prepare to attack Muslim rebels in Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept. 13, 2013.
  • Government troopers prepare for an assault on Muslim rebels in Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept. 13, 2013.
  • Firemen rush to put out a fire that razed several homes as government troopers continue their assault on Muslim rebels in Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept. 12, 2013.
  • A man throws water into a burning house in Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept. 12, 2013.
  • Residents believed to be hostages wave white cloths as they shout at troops to stop their operation in the continuing standoff with Muslim rebels, Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept.11, 2013.
  • Residents who abandoned their homes carry their belongings during a standoff in Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept. 10, 2013.

Government operations included air strikes and what they called “calibrated” or focused attacks on the group that they said belongs to a faction led by former MNLF chairman Nur Misuari. Misuari has been out of the public eye since the conflict began.

Ustadz Habier Malik, a ranking MNLF commander under Nur Misuari, is believed to have led the group in Zamboanga.

Western Mindanao University professor and peace advocate Grace Rebollos told reporters in Manila yesterday, that the government must learn new ways of handling rebellion in the part of the country where Muslim tribal norms were upheld. She said Malik’s status as an “ustadz” or teacher of Islam was significant.

“So that when one is pushed to the wall and he reacts in a way that vanquishes him or her, then that becomes a martyr. That becomes a hero. And when that becomes a martyr or a hero and it’s given religious undertones, then you’re seeing certain backlashes from the communities that these people used to handle,” said Rebollos.

Muslim rebels and government have been fighting for four decades in a conflict that has left more than 150,000 people dead. In 1996, Misuari signed a peace agreement with the Philippines, which created an autonomous Muslim region in the south. But he took up the fight again in 2001, saying government did not hold to the terms.

Right now, the Philippine government and the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are in the final stages of a peace pact. Misuari has expressed misgivings about this pact, which would effectively replace the autonomous region with a new self-governing area.

Zamboanga City officials say more than 10,000 homes were burned to the ground in the five neighborhoods where skirmishes took place. At the height of the clashes, close to 120,000 residents fled their homes and officials are now scrambling to provide humanitarian assistance to scores of thousands of people in evacuation centers. The city, a major commerce hub, also suffered economic losses in the millions of dollars daily because of the conflict.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid