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Bloody Philippine Siege Brought to an End

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In an entry earlier this month, Muslim Rebels Attack Philippine Towns, I described a siege that left 200 people held hostage in Zamboanga City, Philippines. Now, three weeks of urban warfare have come to an end in Zamboanga. Most of the hundreds of Muslim Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels who stormed into the town have now been killed or captured by Philippine forces, and the military is handing control of the area back to local police. The AFP reports that 183 rebels were killed, 292 others were detained, 23 soldiers and police were killed, and 12 civilians also lost their lives. Weeks of street battles and numerous fires destroyed more than 10,000 homes and caused more than 100,000 residents to flee, creating a humanitarian crisis that will take months to abate. [36 photos]

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A Philippine national flag put up by government soldiers flutters on a building riddled with bullet holes from clashes with Muslim rebels of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga city, southern Philippines, on September 28, 2013. Philippine forces said on Friday they had rescued the last civilians held by Muslim rebels on a southern island after nearly three weeks of fighting that has raised doubts about government efforts to end decades-old insurgencies. About 200 people, mostly rebels, were killed and more than 100,000 residents of the port city on the main southern island of Mindanao were displaced. (Reuters/Stringer)
A Philippine national flag put up by government soldiers flutters on a building riddled with bullet holes from clashes with Muslim rebels of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga city, southern Philippines, on September 28, 2013. Philippine forces said on Friday they had rescued the last civilians held by Muslim rebels on a southern island after nearly three weeks of fighting that has raised doubts about government efforts to end decades-old insurgencies. About 200 people, mostly rebels, were killed and more than 100,000 residents of the port city on the main southern island of Mindanao were displaced. (Reuters/Stringer)
Government soldiers take cover beside armored vehicles as they try to assault the positions of Muslim rebels during a gunbattle in Zamboanga City, on September 13, 2013. They retreated afterwards due to IEDs and booby traps they found on the road, a military official said. (Reuters/Erik De Castro) #
An aerial view of burning houses caused by fires from fighting between government soldiers and MNLF Muslim rebels in Zamboanga City, on September 25, 2013. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A Holy Rosary dangles amidst M203 ammunition on the vest of a Government soldier, during a pursuit of Muslim rebels, on September 15, 2013 in Zamboanga City. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
A Government soldier stands next to a huge hole in a wall, created during an offensive against Muslim rebels in Zamboanga City, on September 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
A flotilla of bancas (locally made boats) carrying evacuees displaced from their homes due to fighting between government soldiers and MNLF rebels, during sunset at a wharf in Zamboanga city, on September 14, 2013. (Reuters/Erik De Castro) #
Villagers displaced by the fighting, housed in tents in a stadium in Zamboanga City, on September 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
A villager waits for a ride to take her to an evacuation center after authorities ordered a forced evacuation of their village as a standoff between the government troops and Muslim rebels, who took scores of hostages and used them as human shields, on September 13, 2013 in Zamboanga City. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
Red Cross volunteers lay wounded after a mortar landed near them as the government troops assaulted Muslim rebels in Zamboanga City, on September 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
A member of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force guards a public high school as evacuees receive food rations while government forces continue to engage Muslim rebels in Zamboanga City, on September 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
A Government soldier from Task Force Zamboanga fires 60mm mortars as renewed fighting between Government forces and Muslim rebels, who took scores of hostages, entered a second week, on September 16, 2013 in Zamboanga City. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
Smoke rises as fighting continues between government forces and Muslim rebels in Zamboanga city, on September 18, 2013. A Philippine police chief abducted by a small band of Muslim rebels convinced them to surrender and emerged free, but a separate larger group continued to hold several hostages, officials said. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
A pigeon flies back to its house as fire rages in the background in Zamboanga City, on September 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
Gutted houses, a day after fierce fighting between the government troopers and Muslim rebels, on September 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
Police and military bomb squad members examine the wreckage of a passenger bus, following an explosion that killed three people in Zamboanga City, on September 21, 2013. The explosion occurred as the standoff between Government forces and Muslim rebels continued. (AP Photo) #
A resident inspects damage to a house after a mortar shell believed to be from the Muslim rebels' position hit a residential house as government forces clashed anew with remnants of Muslim rebels in Zamboanga City, on September 21, 2013. Philippine security forces killed eight Muslim rebels September 19, as they hunted the remnants of a guerrilla force hiding in homes of a major city and believed to be holding hostages. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #
Villagers, who were displaced by the fighting between government forces and Muslim rebels, continue to live on their boats on September 20, 2013 in Zamboanga City. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
Tens of thousands of villagers are camped out in a stadium to escape the fighting between government forces and Muslim rebels in Zamboanga City, on September 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
Children evacuees effected by the stand-off between Philippine government forces and Muslim rebels pose for photos at an evacuation center in Zamboanga, on September 14, 2013. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #
A military drone flies above as fighting continued between the government troops and Muslim rebels, on september 14, 2013 in Zamboanga. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
Government troops prepare for an assault in Zamboanga city, on September 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
Smoke billows as stilt houses burn in fires caused by fighting between government soldiers and Muslim rebelson the outskirts of Zamboanga City, on September 27, 2013. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A hostage receives treatment after being released from the hands of Muslim rebels in Zamboanga, on September 17, 2013. About 64 hostages were freed or escaped during military operations, followed by another 14 who walked to freedom in separate batches. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
A young hostage is reunited with his parents after being processed at the Philippine National Police Camp in Zamboanga, on September 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
A Government trooper covers the bodies of two Muslim rebels, a female and a male, after they were killed in the standoff in Zamboanga, on September 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
The hand of a dead MNLF Muslim rebel, his body in a military vehicle, after he was killed in the offensive in Zamboanga, on September 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
Suspected Muslim rebels whom the military said were either captured or surrendered, arrive at a police station for processing in Zamboanga, on September 26, 2013. Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said only a handful of Moro National Liberation Front rebels remained in hiding and were being hunted by troops in the coastal outskirts of Zamboanga, adding authorities were trying to determine if rebel commander Habier Malik, who led the September 9 siege, was dead. (AP Photo) #
Volunteers help lower the body of a suspected Muslim rebel killed in the stand-off between Philippine government forces and MNLF rebels during a burial on the outskirts of Zamboanga, on September 20, 2013. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #
Volunteers bury the bodies of Muslim rebels killed in the standoff in a common grave in the outskirts of Zamboanga, on September 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #
Muslim rebels captured during the standoff with government forces are transported to a prison facility outside Zamboanga, on September 27, 2013. Aid workers warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis in a major Philippine city racked by weeks of deadly street battles between Muslim rebels and soldiers. (AFP/Getty Images) #
Members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), who surrendered to government soldiers, wait to be fingerprinted at a police station in Zamboanga, on September 26, 2013. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Philippine police officers salute to pay their respects to their comrade, who was killed during an operation against Muslim rebels in Zamboanga, as his casket arrives at Villamor Air Base in Pasay, south of Manila, Philippines, on September 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) #
Government troops rest amid ruins at the site of a three-week standoff in Zamboanga, on September 28, 2013. (AP Photo) #
Philippine soldiers, wearing gas masks, look at burned bodies believed to be Muslim rebels, next to destroyed houses at the site of heavy fighting between government forces and MNLF rebels in the Santa Catalina area of Zamboanga City, on September 26, 2013. (Frederick Alvarez/AFP/Getty Images) #
Philippine soldiers wear gas masks as they patrol among destroyed houses at the site of heavy fighting between government forces and MNLF rebels in Zamboanga City, on September 26, 2013. (Frederick Alvarez/AFP/Getty Images) #
The Philippine national flag flies at half-staff as soldiers watch a news conference below of top Government officials at the site of a three-week intense fight between government forces and Muslim rebels in Zamboanga City, on September 28, 2013. The deadly standoff between government troops and Muslim rebels has ended, officials said Saturday. More than 200 people were killed in the clashes, including 183 rebels and 23 soldiers and police, in one of the bloodiest and longest-running attacks by a Muslim group in the south, scene of decades-long Muslim rebellion for self-rule in the largely Roman Catholic country. (AP Photo) #

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