MANILA, Philippines – Up to 30 hostages have been allegedly taken by heavily armed members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) after a fierce clash with government troops in Zamboanga City on Monday that left one naval special forces member dead, authorities said.
Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde told INQUIRER.net that the group was demanding to put up their flag in the government city hall.
But Police Chief Superintendent Juanito Vaño Jr., Region IX police director, in a separate report, said at least 20 heavily armed men entered Barangay (village) Sta. Catalina and held hostage 10 to 15 civilians.
“Hopefully we will be able to get the civilians and engage them properly,” he said in a radio interview.
The MNLF has penetrated the villages of Talon-Talon, Rio Hondo, Mariki, Sta. Catalina, Sta. Barbara, and Arena Blanco as of posting time.
Zamboanga City government also suspended classes in all levels as well as work in government offices.
A crisis management committee led by Mayor Ma. Isabelle Salazar was also convened.
The firefight, which started Monday dawn, between government troops and the MNLF is still ongoing.