News / Asia

Philippines President Visits War-Torn Southern City

A view of burnt vehicles and ruins of houses gutted by a fire caused by fighting between government soldiers and Muslim rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga city in southern Philippines, Sept. 13, 2013. A view of burnt vehicles and ruins of houses gutted by a fire caused by fighting between government soldiers and Muslim rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga city in southern Philippines, Sept. 13, 2013.
x
A view of burnt vehicles and ruins of houses gutted by a fire caused by fighting between government soldiers and Muslim rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga city in southern Philippines, Sept. 13, 2013.
A view of burnt vehicles and ruins of houses gutted by a fire caused by fighting between government soldiers and Muslim rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga city in southern Philippines, Sept. 13, 2013.
VOA News
Philippines President Benigno Aquino is visiting a southern city where Muslim rebels, apparently opposed to peace talks, have seized several neighborhoods and taken civilian hostages.

A presidential spokesman said on Twitter that Aquino arrived early Friday to "personally assess the situation on the ground" in Zamboanga City, a key port town of almost 1 million people.

Philippine troops there are battling about 200 rebels linked to the Moro National Liberation Front who stormed the city Monday, taking in scores of hostages who officials say are being used as human shields.

At least nine people have been killed in the fighting, which has forced around 13,000 residents to flee.

Clashes have also broken out on nearby Basilan island, where rebels have carried out two days of attacks on military targets. The Philippine military said troops deterred a rebel attack during a 2-hour gun battle early Friday in the city of Lamitan. It said six soldiers were wounded.

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 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 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 not clear to what extent Misuari is involved in the current standoff, as he has not appeared in public or issued any official statement. In a Facebook statement, Mayor Beng 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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid