Rebels attack southern Philippine city
Suspected Muslim rebels have clashed with Philippines military in southern Zamboanga city, according to the mayor and military officials.
At least one naval soldier has been killed and six others wounded after rebels attacked villages, AP news agency quoted military officials as saying.
The navy men clashed with about 100 suspected Moro National Liberation Front 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 pre-dawn clash later spilled into Rio Hondo as people slept, prompting scores of residents to flee, Zagala said.
Followers of separatist leader Nur Misuari clashed with soldiers as Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar ordered all schools and offices to remain closed.
"Their target is the City Hall. They want to raise their flag of independence at city hall," she told radio station DZBB on Monday.
She said a district official had told her members of Misuari's Moro National Liberation Front were holding 20 civilians hostage. She said a negotiator had been sent to the area to try to free them.
Reinforcement troops and police have been deployed to help secure Rio Hondo, which is located near the central Zamboanga, a bustling trading hub in the south.