MANILA, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Continuing hostilities between government forces and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters in the southern Philippines' Zamboanga City left five soldiers and three MNLF men dead, and 11 other soldiers injured, the military said on Thursday.
Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, public affairs office chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the skirmishes in Barangay Sta Catalina, one of the areas constricted by thousands of government troops, also resulted in the capture of 45 MNLF men and rescue of six hostages.
Zagala said the fighting broke out around 11:00 local time Wednesday evening and lasted around 3 hours as the military continue to wrap up its operation against the followers of MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari.
Zagala said the 45 MNLF surrendered after the fighting due to " many factors."
"(They were) overwhelmed by the military pressure and had no more will to fight. They're low in ammunition. Their will to fight is low," Zagala said of the MNLF men.
In Barangay Rio Hondo, two government soldiers and three MNLF men died while five other soldiers were wounded in another firefight near the Zamboanga State College of Marine Science Technology around 4:25 Thursday morning.
About 200 armed MNLF members under Misuari faction went to Zamboanga City on Sept. 9 but the military chanced upon them, resulting to firefight. The armed group snatched civilians and used them as their human shields.
As of Thursday, Zagala said the number of slain soldiers and policemen was pegged at 18 and 5, respectively. The number of wounded soldiers and policemen also rose to 180.
Twelve civilians also perished and 54 others were wounded, he said.
Meanwhile, Zagala said the number of slain MNLF men since Sept. 9 is now 138. He said 162 others were captured and 56 have surrendered.