- POSTED: 26 Sep 2013 21:25
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Philippine troops in Zamboanga on Thursday are mopping up the last of the rebels still holding out against the authorities after an air and sea attack.
ZAMBOANGA: Philippine troops in Zamboanga on Thursday are mopping up the last of the rebels still holding out against the authorities.
A 24-hour air and seaborne attack has successfully flushed out scores of rebels, and officials say they intend to restore Zamboanga to normalcy soon.
Pursuit operations against the remaining members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that are holed up in these villages continue on the 18th day of the standoff between government forces and MNLF rebels.
Up till Thursday, the military has already captured 160 rebels and 56 so far have surrendered, but the rebels' leader, Commander Habier Malik, remains elusive.
The military estimates that there are only 5 to 10 hostages still in the hands of Malik and his men and that there may be children among them.
A spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Lt Col Ramon Zagala, said: "Definitely we cannot put a timeline on lives. We want to end this at the soonest possible time.
"We are at the stage where we rescued, just last night, 6 hostages and we are still determining if there are still more hostages inside. What is important to us, besides ending it, is to save lives."
The military believes that as the rebels run out of ammunition and as more and more of their comrades are being captured, it will only be a matter of time before the gun battles will be over.