News / Asia

168 Held Hostage in So. Philippines Standoff

Government soldiers with armored personnel carriers move to reinforce the government forces battling the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels in Zamboanga City, southern Philippines, Sept.10, 2013.
Government soldiers with armored personnel carriers move to reinforce the government forces battling the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels in Zamboanga City, southern Philippines, Sept.10, 2013.
Simone Orendain
The southern Philippine city Zamboanga is into the second day of a hostage crisis. The government says at least 168 people are being held captive as the military and a Muslim rebel group faction continue a standoff.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines say thousands of military and police are spread out around Zamboanga in the southern island of Mindanao to try to keep a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front from entering the city.
 
At a news briefing in Manila, President Benigno Aquino said the forces today are “overwhelming” and they include elite units.
 
“Our priority, of course, is all of the civilians that could get dragged into the conflict.  Our instructions since yesterday have been to make sure everyone is safe,” said Aquino.
 
Officials say the group of more than 200 fighters led by an MNLF commander had intended to raise a separatist flag in Zamboanga City hall.  But the military learned about their plan and intercepted them.  The two sides clashed, killing at least four people and wounding 21 others. When the fighters were unable to penetrate the city, the government says they took hostages using them as human shields.
 
  • 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.

A military spokesman says there were small skirmishes Tuesday morning with no reported deaths.
 
Rommel Banlaoi heads the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research.  He says both sides “overreacted.”
 
“The military thought there were going to be armed intrusions and the MNLF thought there were going to be armed offensives against them,” Banlaoi said.
 
Zamboanga, PhilippinesZamboanga, Philippines


Banlaoi said last week the MNLF held a peace rally in Davao City, also in Mindanao, to garner support for an independent republic.He said the group’s presence in the Zamboanga area was supposed to be similar.
 
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said at a news conference Tuesday that four children and one adult were released from among the hostages. 
 
School closures went into effect and flights to and from Zamboanga have been canceled.  Businesses also closed.  But on Tuesday, Zamboanga Mayor Isabelle Climaco appealed to grocers and pharmacies to remain open.
 
Roxas says vital installations such as hospitals, power and water treatment plants have been secured and that the situation is slowly getting back to normal.
 
But MNLF leader Nur Misuari has remained elusive throughout this crisis.  The MNLF signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996, but the group has contended the government did not hold to its terms.  President Aquino says the government does not yet have any evidence to file a case against Misuari.
 
The Philippines is in the final stages of working out a peace accord with the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.  The MILF says the incident in Zamboanga is a tactic aimed at derailing those peace efforts.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs