A soldier and a Moro gunman were killed in clashes, even as the siege in Zamboanga City had been declared finished a few days ago.
Quoting a field report, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, military public affairs chief, identified the slain soldier as Corporal Hakim Jaafar of the Army’s 44th Infantry Battalion. He was killed during the clearing operations in Sta. Barbara on Monday afternoon.
The encounter lasted for about 30 minutes. It also left one member of the Moro National Liberation Front dead.
Zagala said they were still engaging with a few stragglers, the remaining forces of the MNLF in the area.
Jaafar was the 19th soldier killed from the three-week gunbattle. Over 200 had been killed in the fighting, with 192 from the MNLF.
During the clearing phase, which is the second phase of the conflict, Zagala said the Philippine National Police took the lead role. The military’s goal in the clearing operations is to get rid of the remaining MNLF forces who are evading capture.
He said there were slim chances that the remaining MNLF stragglers will regroup.
“No more. They are already defeated. If they do regroup, thousands of AFP and PNP troops are there on the ground and they are no match,” Zagala said.