MAYOR Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar of Zamboanga City has suspended classes and works in both public and private schools and offices as hostilities broke out in the city after armed followers of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding-leader Nur Misuari landed at the shores of this city early on Monday.
“Due to the present situation, Mayor Salazar in coordination with the Department of Education [DepEd] is suspending classes in all levels, private and public in Zamboanga City today [September 9],” City Hall Information Officer Sheila Covarrubias said in a text message.
“Authorities are collaborating efforts to resolve the situation. The public is advised to remain calm and sober but alert and vigilant and report anything unusual to the police at  991-56-56 or you nearest police station,” Covarrubias added.
Salazar has convened a Crisis Management Committee meeting together with local police and military officials to assess the situation.
So far, three people—a policeman and two civilians—were reported killed on two separate locations. The policeman was killed by sniper at Barangay Sta. Barbara while the civilians were reportedly killed at Barangay Talon-Talon.
An MNLF follower was killed in the firefight near the Zamboanga City Public Safety Company headquarters in Barangay Sta. Barbara.
Aside from Sta. Barbara, on-and-off skirmish is also taking place just outside the government-run Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC) along Dr. Evangelista Street in Barangay Sta. Catalina.
MNLF Secretary-General Abdul Sahrin said over RMN-Zamboanga that he received information that some 50 followers of Misuari arrive on Sunday in Barangay Rio Hondo of the said City.
Sahrin disclosed that further information states a group of 400 rebels were mobilized on Sunday by Ustadz Haber Malik in Barangay Candiis, Mohammad Ajul town, Basilan province.
Malik, who is based in Panamao town, Sulu province, is one of the loyal rebel leaders of Misuari.
Sahrin disclosed that Misuari is now acting on his own.
There were also reports that unidentified gunmen were seen to have landed Monday morning at the shores of Barangay Talon-Talon.
Meanwhile, the group led by Commander Hussin Hasimin, one of the leaders of the Misuari group, is holding hostage at least 28 people, including women and children, in Barangay Sta. Catalina.
Hasimin said over RMN-Zamboanga that their mission is to march towards downtown to raise the MNLF flag at the flagpole of City Hall.
His group together with the hostages is holed up in the boundary of Sta. Catalina and Barangay Kasanyangan and cannott march to the city proper as government forces are stationed in the barangay hall of Sta. Catalina. PNA