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MNLF rebels 50 meters from Zambo City Hall, reinforced by fresh arrivals

September 10, 2013 10:51am

Wounded soldier adds to growing casualties in Zambo crisis
Wounded soldier adds to growing casualties in Zambo crisis. An Army soldier who was wounded by shrapnel during clashes with MNLF fighters in Zamboanga City on Monday, September 9, is evacuated to safety by his comrades. Troops are still locked in a standoff with dozens of MNLF rebels in the city center. AFP/PIA
(Updated 3:35 p.m.) Government troops and Moro National Liberation Front gunmen continued to exchange gunfire in Barangay Sta. Barbara just 50 meters from Zamboanga City Hall.
 
"'Yung encounter site ngayon which is Brgy. Sta. Barbara, that is more or less 50 to 60 meters away from the seat of government of Zamboanga, which is the city hall," GMA News stringer Jayvee Francisco reported on News to Go on Tuesday morning.
 
The MNLF forces reportedly intended to hoist their flag at Zamboanga City Hall following MNLF founder Nur Misuari's declaration of independence last August, although MNLF spokesman Atty. Emmanuel Fontanilla has denied this

Francisco also said additional MNLF forces landed on the shoreline of Brgy. Mampang early Tuesday, the second day of the crisis.
 
The augmentation force took around 20 civilians hostage, including women and children, then proceeded to march to Brgy. Kasanyangan to join other MNLF groups.
 
However, they were blocked at a checkpoint in Brgy. Talon-Talon, where they remain in negotiations with barangay officials, Francisco said.

Firefight at elementary school
 
According to Francisco, the Tuesday morning firefight was concentrated at Sta. Barbara Elementary School, which has been occupied by MNLF forces who entered the city via the coastal village of Mariki on Monday.
 
Blasts were heard from rocket-propelled grenades, M203 grenade launchers, as well as shots from MNLF snipers positioned on top of a building.
 
"In-occupy nila ang isang community ng Sta. Barbara," Franciso said, noting that apart from the snipers, MNLF members were positioned in the elementary school, the barangay hall, and other buildings in Sta. Barbara.
 
Five military trucks of soldiers in full battle gear were on their way to Sta. Barbara elementary school, the report said.

Fire also broke out in Sta. Barbara in the afternoon, affecting five houses, according to tweets by Zamboanga City government. Responding firefighters were reportedly advised by the military to wait for clearance before conducting any operation.

Stray bullet victim
 
Meanwhile, a civilian was rushed in an ambulance of the Philippine National Red Cross to the Zamboanga City Medical Center satellite hospital at the Western Mindanao State University Gymnasium.
 
Citing police information, Francisco said the civilian was hit in the head by an M16 bullet. The civilian was checking on his store near the Sta. Barbara barangay hall, which has also been occupied by the MNLF.
 
Some civilians were still in the area, although Sta. Barbara residents were evacuated to the Zamboanga City grandstand on Monday. "May mga tindahan sila dito malapit sa lugar, ang rason nila iche-check lang nila kung sinarado nang maayos," Francisco said.
 
Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco has urged people to stay in their homes, and imposed an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew
 
"Please keep safe by staying in your homes, limit movements outside, as we allow our authorities to do their role in ending the conflict with no damage to lives and properties. Let us all pray for the safety of our people and our beloved Zamboanga City. Vaya con Dios!" Climaco said in a statement.
 
Casualties so far included four killed and 14 injured. "Authorities are undertaking steps to resolve the crisis but would not divulge details of the operation," Climaco said in a statement posted on the Zamboanga City Government Twitter account. – Carmela G. Lapeña/KG/HS/KBK, GMA News
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