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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid