Death toll over 50 in Zamboanga crisis

MANILA, Philippines - More than 50 people have died in the ongoing clashes between the military and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters in Zamboanga City since the standoff began September 9. 

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Lt Col Ramon Zagala said at least 51 MNLF members and 6 soldiers and policemen have died since fighting began on September 9, Monday. At least 56 other people are wounded. 

Zagala also said the military captured two MNLF members and recovered 3 hostages on Sunday, September 16.  

Around 3,000 elite government troops are in Zamboanga City.

On Saturday, a reported ceasefire plan brokered by Vice President Jejomar Binay fell through. Binay has since defended his actions saying the President knew of his plans to speak to MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari. 

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said on Sunday morning that  around 69,000 people are affected by the clash and have moved to temporary shelters.

According to the local chamber of commerce, economic losses in Zamboanga could be as much as Php 50 billion ($1.1 billion) a day.

President Benigno S. Aquino III chose to stay in Zamboanga City for a 3rd day, after arriving on September 13. On Saturday, September 14, the President visited evacuees at the Joaquin F. Enriquez Sports Complex. He also held a security briefing with top police and military officials and met with Vice President Jejomar Binay in the afternoon. - with a report by Agence-France Presse/