News / Asia

Philippine Army Gains Ground on Rebels in Zamboanga

Government troops prepare for an assault on Muslim rebels in Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept. 13, 2013. Government troops prepare for an assault on Muslim rebels in Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept. 13, 2013.
x
Government troops prepare for an assault on Muslim rebels in Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept. 13, 2013.
Government troops prepare for an assault on Muslim rebels in Zamboanga, Philippines, Sept. 13, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
The Philippine military says troops have rescued 116 hostages in the past 18 hours and recaptured 70 percent of the coastal area recently occupied by rebels in a continuing standoff between the army and Muslim rebels.

A military spokesman said on Tuesday that about 100 rebels with the Moro National Liberation Front, or MNLF, were still engaging in clashes with troops in the southern port city of Zamboanga. He said officials are uncertain how many more hostages the rebels are still holding, but some 64 hostages were freed during military operations on Tuesday.

A truce was supposed to have gone into effect on Saturday after a ceasefire agreement was reached on Friday by Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay and MNLF faction leader Nur Misuari. However, fighting in the region has continued.

The standoff began last Monday when rebels stormed Zamboanga, taking scores of hostages whom officials say they have used as human shields.

Schools and most government offices in Zamboanga have been closed, and the government has continued to ground flights to and from the area. The fighting has displaced some 70,000 people and hundreds of homes have been set on fire.

The MNLF has long pushed for greater autonomy in the mainly Muslim south, where a four-decade-long insurgency has killed at least 120,000 people.

The group signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996 that led to the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, but some of its members continued to fight, claiming that Manila did not hold up its end of the deal to develop the impoverished, rural region.

Recently, MNLF founder Misuari has criticized the government's peace talks with a larger Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Fearing the negotiations may marginalize his own group's power, Misuari last month declared part of the country's south to be independent of the government.

Under Misuari's leadership, the MNLF carried out an attack in Zamboanga in 2001 that was similar to this most recent one. At the conclusion of that attack, the fighters were allowed to leave after releasing their hostages.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid