CNS PHOTO | ERIK DE CASTRO, REUTERS
A man runs to fetch water to douse houses burning as the result of a firefight between government soldiers and Muslim rebels with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Zamboanga, southern Philippines Sept. 12.
Bishops in southern Philippines have condemned rebels’ use of hostages as human shields in gunfights with government troops.
The gunfights have escalated since Sept. 9 after hundreds of Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters reportedly attacked government troops who were securing five coastal districts in Zamboanga.
The military reported Sept. 13 that at least 18 people had been killed, 11 of them rebels and the rest soldiers, policemen and two civilians.
A Philippines Army official reported that 28 soldiers, six policemen and 18 civilians had been wounded in clashes in Zamboanga and in Basilan province, where the fighting had spread.