Thousands flee homes as MNLF rebels invade Zambo-A A +A
By Bong Garcia
Monday, September 9, 2013
ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Close to 3,000 residents who fled their homes amid the fighting Monday are presently housed at the Joaquin F. Enriquez Jr. Memorial Sports Complex (JFEMSC) in Barangay San Jose-Cawa-Cawa, west of this city.
Evelyn Las Marias, officer-in-charge of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), said the evacuees came from the villages of Mariki, Rio Hondo, Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina, Kasanyangan, Tetuan and Talon-Talon.
Las Marias said the evacuees were provided with food assistance by her office and that of the city mayor, as well as some non-government organizations (NGOs) in the city.
The evacuees abandoned their homes and fled as fighting broke out in the villages of Sta. Barbara and Sta. Catalina when hundreds of rebels loyal of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding-leader Nur Misuari stormed the city.
At least six people, including a policeman and a Navy soldier, were killed, while 24 others were wounded in the villages of Sta. Barbara and Sta. Catalina.
The firefight in Sta. Catalina has forced the authorities to close the government-run Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC) since it is just near the hospital.
This prompted City Health Officer Dr. Rodelin Agbulos, in coordination with the private hospitals administrators, to establish a satellite emergency hospital at the Dr. Bruno gymnasium of the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU).
The emergency hospital would cater to the needs of the victims of the crisis, said Agbulos, who was designated as the health incident commander.
Earlier, Agbulos eyed to utilize portion of the sports complex as emergency hospital but did not push through with the plan since the CSWDO uses the facility as the evacuation center.
The incident has turned the city into a ghost town, since classes and works in both government and private schools and offices have been suspended. (Bong Garcia/Sunnex)