News / Asia

Philippine Muslim Rebels Attack 2nd Province

Government troopers continue their assault on Muslim rebels, Sept. 12, 2013, in Zamboanga city in the southern Philippines.
Government troopers continue their assault on Muslim rebels, Sept. 12, 2013, in Zamboanga city in the southern Philippines.
VOA News
Muslim rebels have attacked a second province in the southern Philippines, not far from where they are engaged in a four day-long standoff with the military.

Fighters linked to the Moro National Liberation Front on Thursday attacked the island province of Basilan, where local officials say at least two people were wounded.

Basilan, PhilippinesBasilan, Philippines
x
Basilan, Philippines
Basilan, Philippines
Basilan Island is about 30 kilometers from the key port city of Zamboanga, where about 200 MNLF fighters have taken scores of civilians hostage since Monday.

About 13,000 residents have fled the fighting, leaving parts of the city abandoned and resembling a war zone. So far, at least nine people have died in the conflict.

JV Faustino, editor of the Zamboanga Today newspaper, tells VOA the atmosphere is tense.

"All the businesses remain closed for the fourth day today, although some people are already coming out on the streets. But generally the situation is not normal. I see a number of troops roaming around the city, including tanks and heavy military equipment."

Colonel Rodrigo Gregorio of the Philippine military says for now there is no effort to retake the areas held by rebels, who are said to be holding some of the hostages as human shields.

"There is no effort yet to decisively capture the objectives because of our present mission. Unless all else fails, including political and diplomatic means, that mission could possibly be changed. We hope we don't have to reach that point."

Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isaballe Climaco said Thursday in a Facebook statement that talks are ongoing with rebel leaders. President Benigno Aquino has sent some of his top officials to deal with the crisis.

  • 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.

The MNLF has long pushed for greater autonomy in the mainly Muslim south, where more than 150,000 people have died during a four decade-long insurgency.

The MNLF 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 Manila did not hold up its end of the deal to develop the impoverished, rural region.

MNLF founder Nur Misuari has also criticized the government's peace talks with a breakaway faction, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Fearing the negotiations may marginalize his own group's power, Misuari last month declared parts of the region to be independent of Manila.

But it is unclear to what extent Misuari is involved in the current standoff, as he has not appeared in public or issued any official statement. In her Facebook statement, Mayor Climaco says she spoke with Misuari, and that he has "disowned" the actions of the hostage takers.

Some government officials have denied that charge, claiming Misuari did order the attacks.

Under Misuari's leadership, the MNLF in 2001 carried out a similar attack in Zamboanga. The fighters were later allowed to leave after releasing their hostages.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid