In the vast southern Philippine island of Mindanao, deadly clashes between Philippine government forces and fighters from a separatist outfit, reportedly holding dozens of hostages, continue to rage. Whole districts of the city of Zamboanga, perched on the western edge of Mindanao, have been evacuated as gun battles ring around its streets. The Moro National Liberation Front, which claims to represent the island’s Muslims, has waged a longstanding insurgency against rule from Manila. Despite advances by Philippine government troops, who say they have reclaimed 70 percent of the areas of Zamboanga seized by Islamist insurgents in early September, an estimated 100 guerrilla fighters remain holed up in the southern Philippine city together with more than 100 hostages. Some 80,000 residents of the area have fled the violence.
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