Intense Fighting between Military and MNLF Rebels Continues in Zamboanga City as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducts operations to reclaim and secure positions held by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) separatists. AFP helicopters fired rockets on MNLF militants as part of a coordinated air-ground offensive in the city Sept. 16, and the military has reportedly re-claimed approximately 70 percent of the areas previously occupied by the rebels. 149 being people held hostage by rebels escaped on Monday night and yesterday morning from the MNLF, authorities said.
\nMandatory evacuation orders remain in place for about 160,000 residents of Santa Catalina, Santa Barbara, Talon-Talon, as well as barangays Rio Hondo and Mampang. Expect roadblocks and checkpoints throughout Zamboanga City, especially on roads leading to southeastern parts of the city. Security forces are trying to keep civilians away from conflict areas, and the AFP continues to enforce tight security in coastal areas to prevent additional MNLF fighters from entering the city. \n\nThe government’s Crisis Management Committee (CMC), which is overseeing response to the rebel attack, has encouraged businesses in unaffected areas to reopen, though schools and nonessential government offices will remain closed until the security operation is complete. Nearly 200,000 school children in Zamboanga City have missed classes due to fierce fighting between Moro National Liberation Front rebels and government forces, the Department of Education said Tuesday. An 8pm to 5am curfew will probably remain in place. Operations were suspended at the Port of Zamboanga on Sept. 9. Flights were also halted at Zamboanga International Airport (ZAM) the same day. The airport closed indefinitely on Sept. 12, but the military has since ferried stranded passengers to Cebu. \n\nThe U.S. State Department has issued a report to U.S. Citizens regarding the ongoing violence and has also stated that airline companies have made arrangements with the Philippine military to offer transportation to stranded passengers holding Philippines Airlines (PAL) or Cebu Pacific tickets.\n\nEmergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Manila (Philippines), Continuing Violence in and around Zamboanga City, Mindanao https://www.osac.gov/Pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=14523&__Referrer=morning_newsletter_17_09_2013