Clash off Zamboanga

ZamboangaA naval engagement off the southern port city Zamboanga, Philippines, is once again showing the utility of maritime transport for non-state actors.

A navy patrol encountered and fought with “about 100 suspected Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels, who were on board a large motorboat and eight smaller vessels off Rio Hondo, a crowded Muslim community in the port city of Zamboanga, military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.” The clash left 1 member of the navy special forces dead and 6 injured, while at least a further 5 died as the fight moved inland. Estimates of hostages taken by the MNLF number between 20 and 300 hundred.

As reported by the AP: “The 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front has engaged the Philippine government in Malaysian-brokered peace talks, which have progressed recently toward a new Muslim autonomy deal. But a Moro National Liberation Front guerrilla faction led by Nur Misuari felt left out and has issued new threats.”

In February, followers of the nominal ‘Sultan of Sulu’ also took to the sea for an invasion of Malaysian Borneo in what was seen as an attempt to gain a stronger bargaining position in the peace talks.

3 thoughts on “Clash off Zamboanga”

  1. Misuari is feeling the pressure of being locked out of the concessions and negotiations associated with the peace treaties governing Mindanao. Additionally, this has the potential of spilling over into Sabah as the MNLF claims an additional 4,000 “fighters” have been activated in the Malaysian peninsula.

    http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/moro-rebels-claim-4000-trained-fighters-mobilised-in-sabah-sarawak

    Malaysia’s ability to contain the Palm Tree plantation crisis may be put to the test. If the rebels in Sabah are in possession of the weapons they claim, it could have only been delivered through the ratlines on that leg of the Sulawesi Sea Triangle. To their detriment, interagency cooperation and the ability to effectively patrol and enforce movement limits within the area have been the weaknesses of both governments. The Sulu island chain is proving to be as porous as it appears.

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