(Lead) AFP still on the lookout for MNLF stragglers

By Priam F. Nepomuceno

MANILA, (PNA) — Despite announcements that the Zamboanga City stand-off is now over, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala on Saturday said that the military is still keeping a tight lookout for Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) stragglers.

But he said that these MNLF men are already defeated and are just focusing to escape.

“We believe they are already defeated). (There are) just a few members of them, stragglers, maybe hiding and evading arrest,” Zagala stressed.

He added that government forces are now checking the city for remnants of MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari’s followers aside from improvised explosives the remnants may have left behind.

Earlier, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said that the crisis is now over.

He made the assessment after there was no firefight Friday night.

Gazmin also said MNLF commander Habier Malik, who was believed to have led the MNLF forces in the crisis, was still uncaptured.

Meanwhile, the AFP announced that the death toll in the 20-day fighting has now reached the 208 mark.

AFP deputy public affairs office chief Major Angelo Guzman said that this update is as of 4 p.m. Saturday.

He breaks this down to the following:

-AFP: 18 killed, 169 wounded in action

-PNP: 5 killed, 14 wounded

-Civilians: 12 killed, 72 wounded

MNLF: 183 killed (100 now unidentified), captured/surrendered 292

Hostages rescued numbered 195 while high-powered firearms seized totaled to 116 and low-powered ones at 15.