Day 12: Malik's troops down to 30-40

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) — Between 30-40 followers of rebel commander Habier Malik holed out in Sta Barbara and Sta Catalina continued to engage government troops in a gun battle on Friday, September 20, the 12th day of the standoff.

"Press on kami," said Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt Col Ramon Zagala. "Walang atrasan po it. Tuloy tuloy ang laban na ito hanggang ma-rescue natin lahat ng civilian," he added.

At least 6 more members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) surrendered late Thursday night, September 19, according to police deputy director general for operations Gen Felipe Rojas Jr.

Rojas said this batch comes from Basilan, distinguishing it from the Sulu group of Malik, the top aide of MNLF founder Nur Misuari. 

Government believes Malik's remaining forces are holding some 20 to 50 hostages. Neither Malik nor Misuari could be found however.

Fifteen rebels also surrendered on Thursday. Commercial flights also resumed that day.

President Benigno Aquino III is still here to oversee military operations and rehabilitation efforts for the city and its more than 100,000 evacuees. 

According to Aquino, the government needs at least P3.89 billion to rebuild Zamboanga— Rappler.com