Global Post: BANGKOK, Thailand — The ragtag militants who stormed one of thePhilippines’ major cities to carve out a new nation — an imagined state they call “Bangsamoro Republik” — must have known they were on a suicide mission.
Following their initial Sept. 9 assault, armed rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) still occupy districts in Zamboanga City, an island hub with 800,000-plus inhabitants that’s roughly equal in population size to San Francisco. They have since detained the police chief as a “prisoner of war” — later freeing him — and sent 10 percent of the city dwellers fleeing, according to Human Rights Watch.
The rebels’ days, however, appear numbered.
From their initial estimated force strength of several hundred men, according to the Philippine Inquirer, they are down 135 fighters: 71 killed, 64 captured.
They have incurred the wrath of at least 5,000 troops with the Philippine armed forces, which routinely receive close tactical support from the US military. Government troops have hammered rebel positions with helicopter-borne rocket strikes and artillery rounds.