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MNLF rebels torch more houses in Zamboanga

Gutted houses are seen Friday Sept.13, 2013, a day after fierce fighting between the government troopers and Muslim rebels, who have taken scores of hostages and used them as human shields, in Zamboanga city. The troops have surrounded the Moro National Liberation Front guerrillas with their hostages in four coastal villages since the crisis erupted Monday. AP/Bullit Marquez

ZAMBOANGA CITY - Members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) holed up in at least five villages in the city torched three blocks of residential houses. The fire has been raging for several hours as of this posting.

Fire trucks and firemen deployed to contain the huge fire were met with pockets of hostile fire coming from the rebels.

Fire marshal Senior Superintendent Dominador Zabala Jr. said they could not immediately determine how many houses were razed by the fire because they cannot enter the area.

“It's too dangerous because our personnel and trucks were being fired at,” Zabala said.

Informed of the situation, the military sent personnel backed up by armored personnel carrier tanks and pounded on the rebels' positions.

The move, however, still failed to give firemen a way in to the burning area.

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Several other areas in the city have also been torched by the rebels as the government attempt to recover the areas that they were occupying.

At least 12 people have been confirmed killed and more than 20,000 residents displaced by the MNLF's hostilities.

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