ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine officials say government troops have recaptured 70 percent of the coastal areas in a southern city that were seized by Muslim rebels and were using helicopter gunships in a bid to end the standoff.
Military officials said Monday that 114 Moro National Liberation Front rebels have been killed or captured since the hostage standoff started on Sept. 8 in Zamboanga city, but about 100 other insurgents were still occupying two coastal communities and were holding more than 100 residents as human shields.
Nearly 82,000 residents have fled the fighting in five rebel-held communities, where 850 houses have been razed amid fierce exchanges of gunfire, and mortar shell and grenade blasts.
President Benigno Aquino III flew to Zamboanga on Friday to oversee the handling of the crisis.
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