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 Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid