ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – An explosion hit a residence located near Alta Mall in Zamboanga City on the 13th day of the security crisis.
The September 21 incident killed one resident, Norma Lladones, 71. She is a volunteer who brings food to evacuees and cops who patrol the area.
The explosion happened a day after an explosion hit a bus terminal. Three were killed.
The suspected mortar explosion happened in Atilano compound in the village of Tetuan near the 3-hectare Alta Mall and the regional building of state-run pension fund Social Security System (SSS) east of the city.
The area is about one kilometer away from the fighting in Sta Catalina, the village where Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Commander Habier Malik and his remaining followers are holed up. Government troops are hunting them down.
“We just woke up and were starting to prepare for breakfast. When I opened the refrigerator there was an explosion. I thought it was the power plug. [My mother] was near the door,” the daughter of the elderly woman who was killed said in Filipino.
“They are one of the volunteers who give food to the evacuees,” a local police officer told reporters.
Firefight was ongoing when the explosion happened. Another fire hit nearby Sta Barbara.
“Continuous clearing operation still being conducted by the government forces in affected barangays,” reads a police situation report.
Zamboanga City has been in a conflict for almost two weeks, after MNLF rebels initially seized 4 barangays and have since been fighting it out with government forces.
At least 96 rebels, 10 soldiers, and 3 cops were killed, according to military statistics.
At least 8 civilians were also killed, based on on police data.
— with reports from Richard Falcatan/Rappler