MNLF troops slip past cops
ZAMBOANGA CITY (UPDATE 2) - Moro National Liberation Front snipers are shooting at high-rise buildings in Barangay Santa Catalina in Zamboanga City Monday as the crisis entered its 8th day.
DZMM correspondent Noel Alamar said MNLF men started shooting at high-rise condominium buildings after noticing some residents in the condos watching the ongoing firefight. Security forces said the MNLF fighters could have mistaken the residents for soldiers.
Alamar said security forces ordered the media men to vacate the area after the bullets ricocheted off the buildings.
Fighting between government troops and the MNLF rebels continued for the 8th straight day, starting as early as 5:30 a.m. Monday. Alamar said mortars are being used in the conflict.
A fire also erupted near the Zamboanga City Medical Center but was put out by firefighters. Officials said the MNLF could be using the fires to burn the bodies of their slain comrades.
The Bureau of Fire Protection also believes the MNLF fighters are torching the buildings, using it as a signal that they are ready to attack.
The bureau estimates hundreds of houses have been burned in the city since the standoff began.
The main avenue leading to Barangay Santa Catalina was cordoned off Monday after suspected MNLF fighters riding a SUV attempted to enter the area.
Intelligence reports said the MNLF men were in military fatigues when they slipped past the Philippine National Police.
AFP: MNLF on the retreat
The military, meanwhile, said government troops were able to push back the MNLF-Misuari faction to the shoreline of Santa Barbara in Zamboanga City.
Tanks are now relentlessly bombarding the area.
Nur Misuari's group is believed to be on the retreat and is making a last stand in the coastal community.
The grand Masjid Mosque, which is the largest mosque in the city, is now riddled with bullet holes. The armed group of Misuari had been hiding in the mosque these past days before the military was able to take control of it.
Sources said Misuari's group could head out to sea to escape from approaching government forces who are currently staging offensive attacks.
"We continue to push forward and we are now constricting this mnlf misuari faction so we can end this conflict as soon as possible," said Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, chief of the AFP public affairs office.
"We now believe they are not an organized group and basically they're fleeing. The momentum belongs to the AFP. We are pushing forward and hopefully we can see the end."
The military spokesman said 51 fighters loyal to Nur Misuari have been killed while 48 more were either captured or have surrendered so far. With reports by Noel Alamar, radio dzMM; and ANC