Rouge elements of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) loyal to Nur Misuari has put areas in Zamboanga City under attack early this morning, September 9.
MNLF elements penetrated the outskirts of Zamboanga City namely Barangays Talon-Talon, Rio Hondo and Mariki early in the morning. This triggered firefights with government security forces. The fighters have threatened to take over Zamboanga City hall unless the palace granted them independence.
The gunmen have set up checkpoints and have also taken around 20 hostages which are being used as human shields.
MNLF Islamic Command Council Chairman Habib Hasim said that the attack was unsanctioned. He also condemned the taking of hostages.
Task Force Zamboanga City has secured vital facilities including the City Hall, Zamboanga Medical Center and the office of Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ZAMCELCO).
Additional army troops were deployed to help secure the city.
Zamboanga City Paralyzed
Classes in Zamboanga City schools are suspended in all levels.
All banks are closed for transactions according to the Bankers Association in the city. Also, other commercial establishments in the city are reported to be closed.
Several modes of transport going in and out of Zamboanga are affected by the clash as all flights going into Zamboanga City are canceled. Boat trips from Zamboanga City to Basilan and Sulu are suspended. Meanwhile, rural buses and jeepneys from east coast continue to ply heir routes as of posting time.
Not Yet Over
As of posting time, most of the MNLF gunmen are situated in Brgy. Sta Catalina in Zamboanga City. Reports indicate that security forces have contained the area to prevent further escalation. Around 20 people are still held captive.
According to reports, the attack was headed by Ustadz Habier Malik, a follower of Misuari. Reports also indicate that around 300 MNLF fighters are involved in the attack and that more are on their way.