Gov’t troops continue mopping operations PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 28 September 2013 13:35

Government troops yesterday continued the clearing operation in areas where remnants of the MNLF Misuari faction are still holed up in separate spots in Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina, Rio Hondo, Mariki and the Talon-Talon coast.

Habier Malik still trapped in military ‘area of operations’

This developed as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said that Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) commander Habier Malik is still trapped within the military “area of operations”.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP public affairs office chief, said they are still verifying various pieces of information they gained as they continue their clearing operations in Zamboanga City.

“We believe Malik is still in the area of operations,” he stated.

Zagala maintained the government is on top of the situation in Mindanao, even as it “continuously assesses” information on how many hostages are still with the MNLF.

Around 45 MNLF fighters were earlier captured by the AFP in the constriction zones in Barangays Sta. Barbara and Sta. Catalina early Thursday at the cost of three soldiers killed and six others wounded.

Three MNLF fighters were killed alongside with two troopers from Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT)-3 following an encounter in Rio Hondo, Thursday morning.

Five Marines were also wounded.

Major Angelo Guzman, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deputy public affairs office chief, said the incident took place around 4:25 a.m.

He added MBLT-3 was conducting blocking operations when it engaged heavily armed MNLF members coming from the fishpond at the extension of the Zamboanga State College of Marine Science & Technology in Barangay Rio Hondo.

A 20-minute firefight ensued which resulted in the death of three MNLF members and two Marines and wounding of five others.

Recovered from the slain MNLF men was an M-16 automatic rifle.

Guzman clarified that the MNLF elements encountered by the Marines were not “reinforcements but had been in the area since day one.”

Meanwhile, six MNLF fighters were taken into custody as fighting between the military and MNLF broke anew yesterday, the 19th day of the standoff.

The fighting at Barangay Sta. Barbara broke a 12-hour silence.

The MNLF members were brought to the city police office where medical personnel attended to their wounds.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday said that 45 Misuari followers under female commander Misba Baladji said they were forced to surrender because of injuries and hunger.

It added THAT Baladji, 69, had taken over her dead husband’s role.

Baladji said she was promised P15,000 by a “trusted deputy” of MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari to join a so-called peace march.

For its part, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said many of the MNLF fighters who surrendered Thursday also claimed they had been similarly “deceived.”

“Many of them said they were deceived,” PNP deputy for operations, Deputy Director General Felipe Rojas Jr. said in a radio report.

The government has since retaken most of the MNLF-controlled areas.

Government figures on the standoff showed 137 MNLFs killed; 246 captured and 24 surrendered.

The total number of hostages released is 195.