Zamboanga, Philippines – As the Zambo crisis enters its second week, the number of casualties continues to rise.
The death toll in Zamboanga, as the gun battle between government forces and members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fail to ceasefire, has risen to 87, according to the military’s update as of 9 p.m., September 16.
Earlier last week, the local government implemented forced evacuation in villages affected by the standstill since last week. A report from the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) said that at least 82,000 persons have been displaced from the fighting and they were housed in several shelters.
As of Monday night, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has recorded 87 deaths from the standoff. MNLF Commander Habier Malik lose 71 of his followers while six soldiers, 3 cops and 7 civilians were also killed.
On the other hand, a total of 146 have been wounded—86 soldiers, 12 cops, 39 civilians, and 9 rebels.
Meanwhile, the forces of the MNLF Commander Malik are now trapped in a very small area in the suburbs of Zamboanga City. Heavy fighting continued Monday evening as military troops fired toward Rio Hondo, the remaining stronghold of Malik’s forces.
Moreover, AFP spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said government troops have cleared 70% of the battle zone.
A total of 64 rebels also surrendered or were captured, the army said. On estimates, there are around 65 rebels left in the battlefield.
Although the government is making headway against the MNLF group, its residents are still feeling terrorized. Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco ordered local officials to stay alert against rebels fleeing out of the battle zone.
Mary Sarah Inciso Gabornes
ABCom/Leyte Normal University