A deadly three-week standoff between government troops and Muslim rebels (mainly the Moro National Liberation Front – MNLF) who held nearly 200 people hostage in the southern Philippines has ended. While the State Department has not yet listed the Moro National Liberation Front MNLF as a terrorist organization, their organization has a history of kidnapping, bombings, and targeted killings throughout the Philippines.

More than 200 people, including rebels, soldiers, police officers and civilians were killed during the standoff, which began Sept. 9 when several hundred members of MNLF entered the city to raise their flag and declare independence. The Philippine Army has yet to locate Habier Malik, the ground commander of the rebel operation. Some analysts say that he could be among the dead, and his body has yet to be accounted for.

The renewed fighting erupted less than a year after Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III signed a peace accord with the MILF separatists. The peace deal raised hopes that the violent but resource-rich southern Philippine region could join the northern parts of the country in historic levels of economic growth and prosperity.

Though the southern Philippine island of Mindanao suffers bombings, killings and kidnapping, the recent fighting in the town of Zamboanga took the violence to a level not seen in years, and left the government struggling to maintain a fragile peace accord.

(Featured Image Courtesy: The Atlantic)