MANILA, PHILIPPINES (Worthy News)– Philippine troops have begun to battle their way back into several coastal communities in Zamboanga where Muslim rebels have held residents hostage in a six-day standoff that so far has killed 56 and displaced more than 60,000, according to Creeping Sharia.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said government forces surrounding the Moro National Liberation Front's fighters have slowly started to retake rebel-held villages in the outskirts of the port city.
President Benigno Aquino III assured displaced villagers who were sheltered at a sports complex in Zamboanga that the government was working to quickly end the crisis.
He said the government was obligated to use "the force of the state" against any rebels holding hostages.
The standoff began last week when about 200 rebel fighters stormed several villages in Zamboanga; the rebels' rationale for the attack was that the Philippine government had reneged on a promise to develop long-neglected Muslim areas within the majority Catholic nation.
Back in 1966, rebel leader Nur Misuari signed a peace deal with the state, but instead of giving up their arms, the Muslims made new demands.