ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 9, 2013) – Moro National Liberation Front forces attacked Zamboanga City in southern Philippines early Monday, taking hostages and using them as shield as exodus of civilians continues.
One policeman and a civilian were killed and several people wounded as fighting raged in several villages that rebel forces occupied. MNLF snipers were also shooting at police and military targets.
The local mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar has suspended all classes in Zamboanga due to the violence.
Initial reports said the attackers were followers of Nur Misuari, chieftain of the MNLF, who earlier has earlier accused Manila of not honoring the 1996 peace accord it signed with the former rebel group.
Various reports said heavily-armed rebels managed to sneak by boats before dawn and launched the attacks by sunrise. It was not immediately known why the Western Mindanao Command failed to prevent the attacks, but obviously its intelligence has failed.
One uniformed MNLF fighter, Hasimin Hussin, who positioned himself near Santa Barbara village, told a radio network Radyo Agong that they came from Sulu province and is under Haber Malik, a lieutenant of Misuari. He said they are fighting for independence.
Misuari ran for governor in the Muslim autonomous region in May this year, but lost. He also ran thrice as governor in Sulu province in previous years and also lost.
The attack was the second since 2001 after MNLF forces loyal to Misuari also launched an attack in Zamboanga and the fighting left over 100 people dead. (Mindanao Examiner)