Civilians taken hostage as MNLF attacks Zamboanga City

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/09 September) — Armed followers of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) have held some 20 civilians hostage in Zamboanga City after a clash with government troops on Sunday night, Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said in a TV interview this morning.

Climaco-Salazar told ANC’s Karen Davila the MNLF members were planning to enter the city and declare independence at the city hall.

She said she has formed a crisis committee to handle the situation, adding classes have been suspended in the city.

One member of the Philippine Navy was killed in the Sunday evening clash near barangay Rio Hondo, the mayor said.

Also in an interview with ANC, MNLF spokesperson Emmanuel Fontanilla said the MNLF members came to Zamboanga City to “escort” MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari.

Fontanilla said Misuari planned to hold consultations around Mindanao about the MNLF’s declaration of independence without resorting to violence.

But Climaco-Salazar said such consultations should not be held in Zamboanga because the city is not part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

She said that while they are supportive to the peace efforts in Mindanao, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process should “secure all these dialogues and negotiations of MNLF and other groups out of Zamboanga City because we are not part of the ARMM.”

Reports said Misuari declared an independent Mindanao state that he called Bangsamoro Republik on August 12, although the ARMM police admitted they have no solid evidence yet that the declaration really took place.

Misuari has openly voiced his opposition to the ongoing peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)

He said the GPH-MILF peace negotiation has sidelined the tripartite review of the 1996 GPH-MNLF Final Peace Agreement. (MindaNews)