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Zamboanga City Siege: Day 17 Updates

Government forces continue to conduct clearing operations on the 17th day of the Zamboanga City siege, putting pressure on remaining MNLF rebels to surrender and release remaining hostages.

The government is hoping to finally put an end to the fighting that paralyzed the whole and razed portions of the city.

The crisis in Zamboanga City started when MNLF elements loyal to Nur Misuari made an attempt to raise the MNLF flag in the city hall last September 9. Government security forces were able to respond immediately and isolate the rebels in several areas in the city. Unfortunately, hostages were used by the MNLF as human shields and several civilians were trapped in the conflict zone. This prompted the government forces to launch a calibrated response to save the hostages and neutralize the rebels.

As of today, 14 military personnel and six policemen have been killed in action, including the latest casualty, Army 2nd Lt. Florencio Mikael Meneses. Among the wounded were 143 military and 14 police personnel. The conflict also killed 12 and wounded 72 civilians, while 172 hostages were rescued.

Meanwhile,106 MNLF rebels have been confirmed killed and 132 have been captured or surrendered to government forces.

The number of evacuees displaced by the fighting are currently above 99,000 individuals in 33 evacuation centers. Social workers from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the local government, and humanitarian organizations are taking care of the needs of the evacuees.

The fighting is reported to cost the city over 300 million pesos per day or over 4 billion pesos. Economic activities are in standstill because most commercial establishments remain closed and transportation by sea and air are limited. There is no account yet on damage to property. The fighting  damaged and destroyed commercial establishments and factories.