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

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, the history of take-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora