AFP: Zambo crisis kills 18 people-A A +A
Friday, September 13, 2013
AT LEAST 18 people have been killed and dozens others have been wounded in the continuing conflict with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction, the military said Friday.
In a press briefing at Camp Aguinaldo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan said bulk of fatalities are from the MNLF which incurred 11 deaths.
Tutaan said two soldiers died in the conflict, including a former MNLF fighter who was integrated into the AFP in 1998 as part of the 1996 peace agreement signed by the government and the MNLF.
He said three policemen and two civilians also died since Monday when the about 200 MNLF men landed in Zamboanga City to raise their flag. Government troops prevented the armed men, who then held captive nearly 200 civilians.
Twenty-eight soldiers, six policemen, and 18 civilians were wounded, said Tutaan. On the side of the MNLF, he said 20 have been either captured, surrendered or arrested.
The number was as of early morning Friday. This covers both Zamboanga City and Basilan, where fighting with the MNLF have spread.
He said the number of injured soldiers does not include six troops who were wounded in a clash with joint forces of MNLF, Abu Sayyaf and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters men in Lamitan City around 10 a.m. Friday.
The military earlier reported that three Abu Sayyaf men died and seven others were injured in a firefight last Thursday. Tutaan said the Abu Sayyaf casualties were not included in their count.
Tutaan said sporadic sniper fires were observed coming from the MNLF forces in Zamboanga City Friday morning.
"We are still there, containing them (MNLF men)," said Tutaan. Over two thousand soldiers and policemen are said to be involved in addressing the conflict in Zamboanga City.
Asked who is at the upper hand in the conflict, Tutaan said, "The mere fact, I think, that they are not able to undertake what they first intended to do, that already swings towards the efforts of government."
Earlier Friday, President Aquino went to Zamboanga City to check on the ongoing efforts to address the situation. He said the President is not there to micromanage.
"He just went there to look into the situation being the President, being the commander-in-chief. I think that his purpose - to look if all the necessary government actions are there," he said.
On US forces in Zamboanga City, Tutaan the Americans are not in any way involved in the conflict, even in the provision of humanitarian assistance to population affected.
Tutaan said the Constitutional prohibits US forces from participating in combat operations. The US troops are in Mindanao to train soldiers in the fight against terrorist elements.
"They are not allowed to be part of this. This is an internal matter, this is something that the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police (should address)," he said. (VR/Sunnex)