6 die in fresh clash in Zambo-A A +A
Saturday, September 21, 2013
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Updated)-- Five rebels and a 71-year-old woman were killed Saturday in the village of Sta. Barbara as fighting dragged on its 13th day between government troops and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction, officials said.
Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said five rebels were killed and two soldiers were wounded as troops battled rebels from close range. He said 35 rebels were still holding out.
Zagala did not disclose the names of the killed soldiers.
"We expect that at the soonest possible time we can corner them," Zagala said, adding that troops had recovered a lot of ground from the rebels. He did not elaborate.
Another fatality was identified as Norma Lladones, a 71-year-old donor-volunteer who cooks food to policemen and evacuees, said Police Station 6 (PS6) chief Elmer Acuña.
Lladones was killed when a stray mortar round, allegedly fired by the MNLF rebels, hit her house in Atilano compound along Don Alfaro Street in the village of Tetuan, which Acuña said is barely a kilometer away from the clash site in Sta. Barbara.
Nestor, Lladones’ son, said they were preparing food around 7:30 a.m. when a mortar shell pierced through the southern wall on the second floor of their house.
“She brings food to us here (at Police Station 6). Her son drives the vehicle,” Acuña said over the phone.
Lladones also distributes cooked food to an evacuation center at the government-run Zamboanga City High School-Main also in the village of Tetuan.
The Lladones family resides at Atilano compound along Don Alfaro Street in the village of Tetuan, which Acuña said is barely a kilometer from the clash site in Sta. Barbara.
Zagala said the military had stopped using heavy weapons during the battles to avoid hitting the hostages.
The military operations have rescued more than 170 hostages, and killed or captured more than 200 rebels. Fifteen security forces and nine civilians have also died.
The standoff started last September 9 when hundreds of MNLF rebels infiltrated this city.
The rebel faction involved in the fighting dropped its demand for a separate Muslim state and signed an autonomy deal with the government in 1996, but the rebels did not lay down their arms and later accused the government of reneging on a promise to develop long-neglected Muslim regions.
Misuari's group splintered into factions and faded into the background, while a bigger rival group entered talks with the government on enlarging an autonomous Muslim region in Zamboanga City.
Misuari has not been seen since the rebel siege began, but President Benigno Aquino III said Thursday that there was growing evidence of his involvement. (Bong Garcia/AP/Sunnex)