Airstrikes launched vs MNLF positions in Zamboanga City

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Government troopers inspect the surroundings during the continuing standoff with Muslim rebels, Sunday Sept. 15, 2013 in Zamboanga city, southern Philippines. The standoff, which began Monday when about 200 Moro National Liberation Front guerrillas stormed several coastal communities in Zamboanga city and seized several residents, has displaced more than 60,000, forced the closure of businesses and resulted in more than 50 deaths so far. AP

MANILA, Philippines–The military on Monday launched airstrikes at Moro National Liberation Front positions in Zamboanga City after eight days of fighting.

“Targeted airstrike by Air Force ongoing. This is part of the calibrated military operations in the area. Pls be guided,” the Zamboanga City government posted on its Twitter account before 1 p.m. Monday.

Last week, forced evacuation was implemented by the local government in areas affected by the fighting. It has so far displaced nearly 70,000 people.

A report from the Armed Forces of the Philippines said that as of 7 p.m. Sunday, 62 had been killed from the gunbattle that started last Monday (Sept. 9). Of this, 51 were MNLF rebels. There were 48 rebels captured.

Six security forces and five civilians were also reported dead. Almost 100 persons were wounded.

The MNLF rebels started their attack last Monday  in an attempt to hoist their flag in the city hall. It was believed to be led by the faction of MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari, who disagrees with the new peace deal the government is working on.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala confirmed the airstrikes although he could not immediately disclose the location. He emphasized that these were “precision-guided.”

“This is guided, the target is marked by grounds and then the close air support were delivered by the MG520 (attack helicopter) as guided by the ground troops,” he said.

The MG520s were used in the military assault for the first time since the offensive started last Friday.

“We continue our calibrated response…and today we intensified our operations and that we are further constricting the position of the MNLF,” Zagala said, estimating that they were still engaging with about a hundred MNLF members.

Related:

Zambo fighting enters second week

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