Mindanao unrest: Helicopters fire on Muslim rebels

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Zamboanga siegeGovernment forces in the Philippines have begun firing rockets from helicopters in an attempt to dislodge Muslim rebels who have been holding parts of the city of Zamboanga in Mindanao for the past week.

The insurgents say they want to establish an independent Muslim state on the southern island of Mindanao. Zamboanga has been brought to a standstill by the week-long siege.

The rebels, from the rebel movement Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), are fighting for independence from Manila despite ongoing peace talks. Nur Misuari, founder and leader of the MNLF, on August 12 declared independence of the Bangsamoro republic, the new name for the former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao proposed by the Philippine government

On September 13, government forces launched an assault to regain control. Around 3,000 troops are taking part in the campaign. Helicopters were brought in on September 15 to add to their firepower.

Military officials say they believe that slightly more than 100 rebels remain active in Zamboanga and that they are still holding more than 100 people as a human shield.

Security forces estimate that they have killed 51 rebels, although only 21 bodies have been recovered. A further 48 rebels have been captured and nine have been wounded. Six members of the Philippine security forces and four civilians were also killed.The number of people estimated to have been wounded, including rebels, stands at 157.

The unrest in the one-million people city of Zamboanga has closed schools and businesses. Hundreds of houses of houses have caught fire during the fighting. Authorities have accused the rebels of deliberately starting the fires.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Government forces in the Philippines have begun firing rockets from helicopters in an attempt to dislodge Muslim rebels who have been holding parts of the city of Zamboanga in Mindanao for the past week.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Zamboanga siegeGovernment forces in the Philippines have begun firing rockets from helicopters in an attempt to dislodge Muslim rebels who have been holding parts of the city of Zamboanga in Mindanao for the past week.

The insurgents say they want to establish an independent Muslim state on the southern island of Mindanao. Zamboanga has been brought to a standstill by the week-long siege.

The rebels, from the rebel movement Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), are fighting for independence from Manila despite ongoing peace talks. Nur Misuari, founder and leader of the MNLF, on August 12 declared independence of the Bangsamoro republic, the new name for the former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao proposed by the Philippine government

On September 13, government forces launched an assault to regain control. Around 3,000 troops are taking part in the campaign. Helicopters were brought in on September 15 to add to their firepower.

Military officials say they believe that slightly more than 100 rebels remain active in Zamboanga and that they are still holding more than 100 people as a human shield.

Security forces estimate that they have killed 51 rebels, although only 21 bodies have been recovered. A further 48 rebels have been captured and nine have been wounded. Six members of the Philippine security forces and four civilians were also killed.The number of people estimated to have been wounded, including rebels, stands at 157.

The unrest in the one-million people city of Zamboanga has closed schools and businesses. Hundreds of houses of houses have caught fire during the fighting. Authorities have accused the rebels of deliberately starting the fires.

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