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‘Intel’ shows MNLF rebels monitored 3 days prior to siege

Security forces walks past debris scattered on a street after rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) clashed with government troops in Zamboanga city, southern Philippines September 9, 2013. Rebels took 30 civilian hostages in the southern Philippines on Monday and held security forces in a standoff as part of a drive to derail peace talks, officials said. Police commandos cordoned off parts of Zamboanga City on the island of Mindanao after a rogue faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) took hostages and tried to march to the city hall to raise their flag, an army commander said.(MNS photo)

Security forces walks past debris scattered on a street after rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) clashed with government troops in Zamboanga city, southern Philippines September 9, 2013. Rebels took 30 civilian hostages in the southern Philippines on Monday and held security forces in a standoff as part of a drive to derail peace talks, officials said. Police commandos cordoned off parts of Zamboanga City on the island of Mindanao after a rogue faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) took hostages and tried to march to the city hall to raise their flag, an army commander said.(MNS photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) – The Moro National Liberation Front’s (MNLF) forces involved in Monday morning attack on Zamboanga City were being monitored as early as last weekend, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Monday.

AFP public affairs head Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the MNLF members were unarmed as of Saturday, but were monitored to be armed on Sunday, prompting the AFP to act.

“Three days ago we monitored them they were unarmed. Yesterday we validated intelligence (information that) they were armed and we moved our forces to interdict,” Zagala said, according to posts on the AFP’s Twitter account.

He added that on Sunday night, the Philippine Navy Special Operations Group interdicted the group in Rio Hondo, “resulting in firefight.”

Zagala also said it is not the AFP’s concern if the MNLF claimed its armed members were to take part in a political activity.

“If there is a political intent by the MNLF, that is not the AFP’s concern, our concern is the safety and security of Zamboanga,” he said.

Zagala also noted the MNLF had hoped to “punch through government troops” who have “contained” the area using human shields.

However, he said Task Force Zamboanga in the area managed to contain the MNLF and “prevent them from getting out of Rio Hondo area.”

For his part, AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan said the MNLF did not just march into Zamboanga but came from different areas.

“The situation is contained, we will ensure there are no spillovers,” he added.  (MNS)

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