Ground troops cordoning areas in Zamboanga City where rogue Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members are holed-up have repulsed an attempt by a still unidentified group to break in and join the former early Tuesday.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan, Jr., said that the encounter took place around 4 a.m.
“A group tried to break through our lines in Barangay Sta. Barbara. Our units there prevented them from joining the rogue MNLF members holed there,” he added.
The AFP is still verifying if there are casualties in the engagement.
Tutaan also said that the military will continue its mission of containing the rogue MNLF members in Barangays Rio Hondo, Sta. Catalina, Sta. Barbara and Talon-Talon.
“Checkpoint operations will continue and the AFP will still continue to ensure that the Misuari breakaway group [rogue MNLF members]will not get away or other armed men from joining them,” he added.
Tutaan also dismissed reports that the AFP suffered an intelligence failure in the Zamboanga City attack, adding that they have been constantly monitoring the movements of the rogue MNLF men.
He cited the instance of the 1:45 a.m. Monday encounter in Rio Hondo where alerted by members of the Navy Special Operation Group who intercepted eight “bancas” containing MNLF fighters.
“Our naval operations prevented them from landing and marching through Zamboanga City and raising their flag,” the AFP spokesperson emphasized.
He declined to comment on calls of the MNLF seeking third party mediation to end the standoff and pointed that it is the purview of the crisis committee. PNA