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Death toll from Zambo hostilities now at 5 — Mar Roxas

September 11, 2013 1:46pm

The death toll from the ongoing hostilities between members of the Moro National Liberation Front and security forces has already reached five, even as 36 have been reported wounded, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said Wednesday afternoon.

At a press conference in Zamboanga City, Roxas said the latest fatality was a member of the Special Action Force who succumbed to a bullet wound to the head on late Tuesday night.

“Ang total po ay lima. Dalawa sa PNP, isa sa AFP at dalawang civilian,” Roxas said adding that 21 of those injured are civilians.

Roxas also cited information from Zamboanga Mayor Beng Climaco that MNLF forces are still holding some 100 civilians hostage.

But he assured the public security forces are barricading the affected villages in Zamboanga, including the waterways to prevent the crisis from spilling over to other areas.

“Patuloy din ang pagmo-monitor ng security forces sa laot o sa karagatan na kung saan ay mino-monitor yung paglabas at pagpasok ng mga barko, maliit man o malaki...,” Roxas said in the press briefing.

Roxas also discussed details of the fire that hit in Santa Barbara village on Tuesday.

“Rumisponde agad yung ating mga bantay-sunog. Rumisponde sila, pumunta sila doon subalit hindi sila nakapasok,” Roxas said stressing, “Hindi sila nakapasok dahil pinaputukan sila.”

“Hindi natin alam kung bakit nagkasunog. Hindi natin sinasabi kung sino ang nagsimula ng sunog. Pero nagkaroon ng sunog, hindi makapasok yung ating mga fire engine, hindi nakapasok...,” Roxas said.

Similarly, the air reconnaissance forces tasked to check the MNLF movement were also shot at according to Roxas.

The local government also recorded the firing of mortars by the MNLF – two in Fort Del Pilar and one in the State College of Marine Science and Technology.

“Nagpapatunay ito na iba ang nasa sa isip ng mga pumasok dito sa Zamboanga City. Hindi po mapayapa. Nagdala ng mortar, nagdala ng RPG, mahahabang armas at yan ang dahilan kung bakit nandito na tayo ngayon,” Roxas said.

UN rescue ship?

Roxas also warned affected citizens against a certain “Daniel Xavier” who introduces himself as part of the United Nations, asking people to come with them to their supposed rescue ship.

Quoting an official statement from the UN, Roxas said the supposed UN organization does not have an employee of the said name.

Also, he said this may also just be a ploy by the MNLF to fake support of the UN for the group's declaration of “independence” for Mindanao.

President Benigno Aquino had sent three top-level government officials, including Roxas, to Zamboanga City to help diffuse tension there following the Monday morning occupation by MNLF members led by the Nur Misuari faction of a barangay in the city.

At a briefing in Malacañang on Monday, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the three officials sent to Zambaoanga were Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, and Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.

2 'MNLF members' arrested

A radio report Wednesday afternoon said at least two suspected MNLF members were shot and arrested after an encounter with city police.

The two were among at least eight men aboard a jeep that tried to flee from a checkpoint in Canelar district, radio dzBB reported.

The report said the men in the jeep fired at the security forces, triggering a pursuit that ended with the two being shot and wounded, and arrested.

Recovered from the two were handguns, but they so far refused to talk, it added.

For its part, the city government indicated the two were MNLF members.

In posts on its Twitter account, the city government said the shooting occurred in Canelar, after "eight to 10" MNLF members engaged police near a checkpoint.

"Two MNLF members were confirmed shot by the police in Canelar. Others are being pursued. Operations ongoing in the area," it said.

It said eight to 10 "confirmed MNLF members" went down on a utility vehicle in Canelar near the police checkpoint earlier.

The shooting occurred on the third day of a standoff between the MNLF and government forces in Zamboanga City. — with a report from Andrei Medina /LBG, GMA News
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