Fighting erupts despite ‘localize’ ceasefire-A A +A
By Bong Garcia
Friday, September 13, 2013
FIGHTING erupted on Friday hours after a "localize" ceasefire took effect to pave the way for a dialogue between the government and the "Misuari-faction" of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels as the standoff continued for the fifth day in Zamboanga City.
The fighting was coupled by three fire incidents that broke out one after the other. The Bureau of Fire Protection has yet to ascertain the real cause of the blaze.
The number of fatalities in the firefight has increased to seven; while 55 others were wounded since Monday when hundreds of MNLF infiltrated the city.
Eleven of the 55 injured were wounded on Friday when an M-203 grenade coming the rebels' position landed beside them while they were seated behind a concrete structure in front of the National Statistics Office in the village of Sta. Catalina.
Of the 11 wounded, five of them are volunteers of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) who were stationed along Dr. Evangelista Street, Sta. Catalina wherein a gunfight was ongoing nearby at the time of the incident.
Of the 55 injured victims, 17 are soldiers, 10 policemen and the rest are civilians to include a human rights personnel aside from the five PRC volunteers.
Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, who chairs the Crisis Management Committee (CMC), announced that the "localize" ceasefire took effect shortly before Thursday midnight.
Salazar said the ceasefire is aimed to pave the way for the negotiations for the safe release of the more or less 100 hostages that are still in the hands of the MNLF rebels led by Habier Malik.
Malik, who is based in the province of Sulu, is one of the trusted field commanders of Misuari.
Meanwhile, the CMC started on Friday the implementation of forced evacuation in the affected areas to ensure the safety of the civilians.
The basis of the implementation of forced evacuation is Ordinance 418, which was approved Thursday night by the City Council in a special session.
The ordinance authorized the authorities, including rescuers, to physically extricate people from danger zones if and when they would refuse to voluntarily evacuate.
The coverage of the forced evacuation ordinance are the villages of Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina, Talon-Talon, Mampang, and Rio Hondo.