Zamboanga City, Philippine hostage crisis, fighting (UPDATE) — Four rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front were killed in fresh fighting Friday, the 12th day of the standoff between the Muslim rebels and Philippine government forces, says a Philippine news report.
A spokesman for the military did not disclose where the firefight took place, but that “it is within the area of constriction.” He also said the army has recovered various high-powered weapons from the site of the clash.
Since the beginning of the conflict, 90 MNLF rebels have been reported killed and 93 captured or surrendered.
On the government side, 14 soldiers have been killed and 119 wounded.
Meanwhile, a government spokesman on Friday said the only option left for the rest of the MNLF rebels in Zamboanga City is to surrender.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte issued the statement to the media after being asked by reporters about calls for a ceasefire by peace advocates and civil society groups in order to ensure the safety of civilians in Zamboanga City.
Last week, Vice President Jejomar Binay told reporters that a ceasefire had been negotiated with the rebels.
But the Zamboanga City government said operations against the MNLF continued, saying they had not received any orders for a ceasefire.
Also, Interior Sec. Mar Roxas said President Benigno Aquino III had never given a directive regarding a ceasefire.
The military also warned residents that the rebel remnants are still “very dangerous” and any sighting of them should be reported to the authorities.
Aquino has said that he will not leave Zamboanga City until the immediate crisis is over.
The President also said there is evidence that MNLF founder Nur Misuari was deeply involved in the attack on Zamboanga City. Image/Philippinenews.com