Air strikes on rebels in Zamboanga: Bishops of Mindanao ask for a ceasefire

Since the beginning of the siege, Zamboanga is virtually paralyzed and the people are in a state of terror, the Bishops noted.

Philippines
Sep 18 2013, 6:46 PM
Air strikes on rebels in Zamboanga: Bishops of Mindanao ask for a ceasefire
People watch rising smoke following the air strike in the rebel camped area in Zamboanga.

Government forces this week launched air strikes on Muslim rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), holed up with more than 100 hostages in Zamboanga, a city on the island of Mindanao, in the extreme south of the Philippines.

Local sources reported 62 dead, including 51 guerrillas and 5 civilians after four days of fighting.

Displaced citizens have risen to 70,000 and are in centres of assistance in the area. Bishops and civil society in Mindanao asked for an immediate ‘cease-fire’ and appealed to the government forces and rebels to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

In a joint statement, 18 Archbishops and bishops of the island called on the government and MNLF "to urgently open a negotiating table and to dialogue, given that armed clashes generates more victims and violence".

Since the beginning of the siege, Zamboanga is virtually paralyzed and the people are in a state of terror, the Bishops noted.

"We are deeply saddened and shocked by this terrible tragedy to human life and property of many families. We express our solidarity with all Muslims and Christians affected. We condemn terrorism that has been inflicted on an entire city. We condemn the inhumane act of using hostages as human shields", they said, calling for full availability of the Church to assist the displaced persons and also encouraging the local administration and non-governmental organizations to contribute actively to assisting refugees.

The Bishops finally suggested involving "other Muslim, Christian religious leaders and indigenous people to pray and work for peace".

Source: Agenzia Fides 

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