ZAMBOANGA, Philippines — Life in a southern Philippine city at the center of a hostage crisis is slowly returning to normal, as troops went house-to-house Wednesday searching for the remaining Muslim rebels and their hostages in a 10-day standoff that displaced more than 100,000 people.
As the worst fighting in years between Muslim rebels and government troops eased, the military warned the rebel holdouts that they faced two choices: surrender unconditionally, or "suffer the consequences and feel the weight of the suffering of so many innocent people in your hands," said military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala.
The standoff began Sept. 9 when Moro National Liberation Front rebels tried to take control of Zamboanga, a major port city of nearly 1 million people. They were foiled by troops but still managed to take scores of people hostage.
The military pressure has resulted in the release of 178 hostages so far. The fighting has killed 14 soldiers and police and seven civilians, while 86 rebels have died and 93 others have been captured.