Fighting continued as Zambo crisis enters 4th day today:Female MNLF sniper killed, another captured;3 MNLFs nabbed in Canelar, 2 in Baliwasan; evacuees now 13,000 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 13 September 2013 15:39

Thousands of residents fled Rio Hondo and Mariki as government troops pushed into Sta. Barbara sending some MNLF rebels retreating to the two coastal villages on the third day of the Zamboanga City crisis yesterday.

Fierce fighting continued in the afternoon at the Sta. Barbara Elementary School where two rebels were seen falling from the second-level of a schoolbuilding after they were hit by bullets from army soldiers.

An Army sniper shot and killed late Tuesday an MNLF sniper at the minaret of the Sta. Barbara mosque who had been preventing soldiers from advancing into the village since Monday, the start of the siege. The slain sharpshooter turned out to be a woman.

Another woman with a rough sketch of the Pettit Barracks in her possession surfaced at the mosque and was arrested by government forces.

The new batch of evacuees brought to 13,000 the number of people now crammed at the Enriquez Sports Complex

In Sta.Catalina, Marines exchanged fire with MNLF forces who were using 10 residents as human shields,

Many of the Rio Hondo and Mariki evacuees fled in bancas that landed in Cawa-Cawa shore (RT Lim Boulevard.

One of the evacuees told a radio reporter that they evacuated the village because they heard gunbattle closing in and all of them have not taken any meal since Tuesday

This developed as policemen engaged in a shootout with three suspected MNLF rebels armed with handguns and wearing civilian clothes at Canelar Barter around 2:30 p.m. They were stopped at a checkpoint, but ran towards the interior where the gunbattle took place, after which they were cornered and. One of them suffered a gunshot wound.

Arrested were Amadin Aduwa, 18, and Alda Hawari, 18, both of Sibuco. Confiscated from their possession were two .45 caliber pistols. They were aboard a jeepney when they were acosted by policemen.

Police said two other MNLF rebels were nabbed in Baliwasan yesterday.

The MNLF attack on Zamboanga led by Habier Malik, a loyalist of Nur Misuari,has left 14 people dead and 21 wounded , according to the military.

Another fire broke yesterday afternoon at the Sta. Barbara Barangay Hall. The fire that broke out Tuesday in Sta. Barbara razed some 20 small houses. Miraculously the flames died down without firemen fighting it.

Residents began fleeing the siege areas early Monday when about 180 MNLF gunmen surfaced into  six coastal villages, triggering firefights with soldiers and police.

MNLF founder Nur Misuari had earlier declared “independence” fof most Mindanao provinces and cities and urged his followers to besiege government installations.

Misuari has since been protesting against a proposed government peace deal with rival rebel faction the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that he said would marginalise the MNLF and violate the terms of the 1996 peace deal.

“We’re trying our best to provide decent facilities for them,” said social worker, referring to the thousands of evacuees at the stadium. However, she said, the venue only had four portable toilets and no available bedding.

Mayor Beng Climaco Salazar told a radio station that local officials had been negotiating with Malik to free residents and leave the city, without much success. She said Misuari could not be found.

“Our main priority really is the safety of all the hostages. The military should come in and try to secure the hostages and defend the city from further intrusion,” she told newsmen. There has been some confusion over whether the residents are being held against their will and the government said it was investigating whether they were hostages.

Philippine Navy spokesman Lieutenant-Commander Gregory Fabic told AFP that Naval commandos also killed seven MNLF members at sea on as they tried to enter the city Monday. — With report from Dan Toribio Jr.