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

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora