News / Asia

    Philippine Forces Step Up Offensive Against Muslim Rebels

    Members of the Philippine Marines hold their weapons aboard a truck as they block a road during fighting between government soldiers and Muslim rebels of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga city in the southern Philippines September 15, 2013.Members of the Philippine Marines hold their weapons aboard a truck as they block a road during fighting between government soldiers and Muslim rebels of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga city in the southern Philippines September 15, 2013.
    x
    Members of the Philippine Marines hold their weapons aboard a truck as they block a road during fighting between government soldiers and Muslim rebels of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga city in the southern Philippines September 15, 2013.
    Members of the Philippine Marines hold their weapons aboard a truck as they block a road during fighting between government soldiers and Muslim rebels of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga city in the southern Philippines September 15, 2013.
    Simone Orendain
    In the southern Philippines, at least 55 people have died and more than 65,000 people have fled their homes while scores of hostages remain in the hands of Muslim rebels.  Clashes between government forces and members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) have intensified as they entered the seventh day.
     
    The Armed Forces of the Philippines say troops are stepping up their fight in the major port city of Zamboanga against about 200 members of the MNLF.
     
    Armed Forces spokesman, Brigadier General Domingo Tutaan, says the military along with police forces are now carrying out a “calibrated” offensive.  But he did not give details of what the measured tactic entails.
     
    “It’s not just simply firing at the enemy, so to speak.  We have to make sure that these civilians who are held against their will and are used as human shields are not caught in the crossfire,” says Tutaan.
     
    The spokesman added that the rebels are “continuously bringing civilians in harm’s way” with mortar and sniper fire.
     
    Fighting started early Monday morning when the military says it interceded after it learned armed members of an MNLF faction tried to enter Zamboanga to raise a separatist flag at city hall.  A faction spokesman has said they wanted to hold a peace rally to drum up support for the creation of an Islamic republic.  The military repelled the rebels, who they say took civilians for cover and kept them isolated to five coastal villages on the fringes of Zamboanga.
     
    Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay tried to broker a cease-fire with MNLF faction leader Nur Misuari, who is believed to be behind this incident. 
     
    The truce was expected to take effect Saturday. But the attempt failed as top officials on the ground noted continuous firing from the rebels.  Government forces have since intensified their offensive, taking back certain MNLF-held locations in the villages, according to the military.
     
    President Benigno Aquino has been in Zamboanga to head up crisis management efforts.  He told thousands of evacuees the conflict would end at the “soonest possible time.” 
     
    A city under siege

    Zamboanga City Executive Secretary Michael Saavedra says the city is trying to get back to normal. 
     
    “Some parts of the city, like the downtown, for example, [are] still a ‘ghost city.’  But the suburbs for example, [are] already- it’s not normal but you see people going around,” says Saavedra.
     
    Saavedra says five banks away from the fighting hotspots agreed to open Sunday after shutting their doors when the fighting started.   Zamboanga City closed schools and canceled work at most government offices, while flights to and from the area remain grounded.
     
    Saavedra says the city is caught in the middle of a national peace and order issue. 
     
    The MNLF signed a peace pact with the Philippines in 1996, but in recent months it has raised concerns that government has not held up to the terms.
     
    The government is currently negotiating the final stages of a peace agreement with a larger Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.  And the MNLF has expressed displeasure at this new agreement, which would effectively replace an autonomous Muslim region that was formed under terms of the 1996 pact.

    You May Like

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Dis Grace from: UK
    September 15, 2013 6:27 PM
    wow... VOA...!!! you mentioned Muslims - for the first time... congratulations... the way VOA covered these Islamic atrocities, I was under the impression the the Philippine heroes were fighting Jewish or Catholic terrorists

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora