Philippine News: Zamboanga City, Muslim Rebels Hostage Crisis (3rd UPDATE): The announced cease-fire between Muslim rebels and the Philippine armed forces in Zamboanga City has not taken hold, and the fighting continues, said a military commander Saturday.
The truce was supposed to go into effect midnight Saturday, according to Philippine state media, but military officers in the battle zone received no orders for a cease-fire, said Zagala.
He said the rebels are continuing their offensive against government forces, and that “We are left with no choice but to press on.”
Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said at least 52 people have died in the six days of clashes.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III warned the rebel hostage-takers Friday that they would face the use of force if they further threatened civilians.
“There are limits, if there is an increased threat to the safety to innocent civilians,” said Aquino. “There are lines that they cannot cross. If they cross those lines, we will be obligated to use the state’s force against them.”
The government says some 180 rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front are holding an estimated 170 hostages in six districts of the city. The armed forces have blockaded the areas, and have been exchanging gunfire with the rebels over the past several days. Image/AFP