Posted by: Chuck | September 16, 2013

Philippine troops advance as ceasefire falters

Philippine troops Sunday closed in on Muslim rebel positions and cut off escape routes to end a week-long standoff that has left more than 60 people dead in the southern city of Zamboanga, officials said. Sporadic clashes continued as soldiers moved to clear Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) gunmen from coastal neighborhoods after a ceasefire plan collapsed, with thousands more residents fleeing to safety. As troops moved through the Santa Barbara district Sunday, the extent of the damage from seven days of fighting came into full view, with buildings reduced to smoldering heaps or pockmarked with bullet holes, an AFP reporter said. Soldiers recovered the bodies of two slain gunmen still clinging to their rifles, and several unexploded warheads for use in rocket propelled grenades had been left behind by the fleeing rebels. In the distance, black smoke billowed from another area that had just gone up in flames. And in a nearby district, a group of soldiers could be seen crouched on the street as sniper fire whizzed just above their heads, television footage showed. “We are continuing to press forward with our calibrated military response,” military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala told AFP. Source: FAP News 9/16




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