STAND-OFF IN THE PHILIPPINES

Fresh fighting in southern Philippines as ceasefire fails

Peace talks up in the air as troops ramp up fighting against Muslim separatists in sixth day of conflict

 
President Benigno Aquino (centre, in black) checking on the condition of wounded soldiers last Friday at the Camp Navarro Hospital in Zamboanga, which is embroiled in a stand-off between the government and Moro National Liberation Front rebels. -- PHOTO: AFP

Zamboanga (Philippines) - Fighting intensified in the southern Philippines between government troops and rogue Muslim separatists, shattering a ceasefire almost immediately as it was to go into effect and leaving many residents running low on supplies.

The army said 53 people, including 43 guerillas, had been killed in the fighting, now in its sixth day in the port city of Zamboanga. Both President Benigno Aquino and Vice-President Jejomar Binay flew into the city to monitor operations.

Dozens have been wounded and more than 62,000 people displaced, with nearly 500 houses torched by the rebels and a hospital still in flames. Rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) have fired on government positions and seized civilians to use as human shields.

The violence on Mindanao underscores the security challenge potential investors face in the mainly Roman Catholic country. It also called into question a peace deal agreed last October with a larger Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Background story

53

People killed in the stand-off, where hostages were used as human shields

43

Rebels killed, of about 180 who entered the city

62,000

People fled their homes

500

Homes torched by rebels

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