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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More