IT IS DAY SEVEN of the siege of Zamboanga City by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction of Nur Misuari.
By official count alone, the numbers continue to rise, and Zamboanga continues to bleed — at least 51 dead, including 17 hostages; at least 78 wounded; at least 500 houses razed to the ground; and at least 62,000 evacuees now cramped in shelters.
Yet still, there’s no ceasefire in sight.
The media’s boots on the ground, notably those raised, born and living in Mindanao, offer perhaps not just quick but also correct reports. We offer you the stories of our esteemed colleagues from MindaNews, a cooperative of independent professional journalists who constantly strive to resist “the daily slide to sameness.”
By Carolyn O. Arguillas, MindaNews
September 15 2013 12:16 am
ZAMBOANGA CITY – No ceasefire.
Day Six of the standoff between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) loyal to founding chair Nur Misuari began with a midnight announcement that a ceasefire had been forged followed by an early morning clarification that no ceasefire was in place and an afternoon urgent appeal from civil society to the government and MNLF to “immediately effect a humanitarian ceasefire to allow the release of civilian hostages, especially the children, the elderly, the persons with disabilities, the curing of the sick, and the burying of the dead.”
Day Six also raised the death toll to 51 as of Saturday noon from Friday’s 18: three each from police and civilians; two from the military and 43 from the MNLF although military spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala was quick to say the actual body count was 21 and the 22 others were “based on reports from our units.” Still, if actual body count were to be used, the death toll rose from 18 on Friday (two each from the military and civilians, three from the police and 11 from the MNLF) to 29 on Saturday.
There is no report, however, on how many hostages had been killed and neither the police nor the military could confirm when a reporter asked if it was true that 17 hostages had been killed.
At the press conference at City Hall on Thursday noon, the Crisis Management Committee put the number of hostages at 170 and the number of MNLF forces holding them hostage, at 180.
The number of wounded also rose from Friday’s 52 to Saturday noon’s 78: 12 from the police, 38 from the military and 28 from the civilians. On Friday, the figure was six from the police, 18 from the civilians and 28 from the military.
Read the full report of Carol O. Arguillas of MindaNews here.