One of my most valued correspondents from the Philippines is a resident of the city of Zamboanga, Philippines. He sent me the above photo. He and his family have been living with the noise of gun fire, military imposed curfew, closed shops, closed businesses, closed roads and a ban on air travel for the past two weeks.
Two weeks ago hundreds of Moro National Liberation Front fighters sailed into the southern Filipino city. Armed to the teeth they attempted to capture the city and declare it independent. The leader of the MNLF was no where to be seen. He had promised the troops that if they were successful the United Nations would reinforce them and each fighter would receive P10,000 ($230 USD) and a gun. I am told that the real purpose of this attack was simply to get media attention for the organization which has been losing support from the local population.
The rebels proceeded to murder and rape scores of the cities residents and take hundreds of hostages. Ironically these hostages were taken from the Muslim communities who they claim to be fighting for (and who hate them as much as anyone else I am told). A historical Catholic religious shrine left untouched by the Japanese WWII occupation was shot up by the rebels. The Philippines Army moved in to take control of the city and have since killed or captured most of the rebels but a small group of 30 – 40 fighters are still holed up with 20 hostages. A number of police and military were killed in action.
The locals suspect that the rebels have been armed with firearms sent by Libyan rebels. Below is a photo of the rebel commander (who has since been arrested) carrying an FN FAL with a muzzle attachment I do not recognize. Can anybody identify the muzzle device. It looks like it could be a rifle grenade launcher.