MANILA -- The interior secretary and the head of the military on Saturday declared an end to a three-week standoff between rebels and government forces in the southern Philippines by raising the country's flag at the site of some of the fiercest fighting.
"The siege in Zamboanga City is over," Interior Secretary Mar Roxas told reporters in the embattled town on Saturday. "We honor the fallen, the brave soldiers and policemen who died for the sake of countrymen and the innocent civilians who were sacrificed at the altar of the selfish interests of a few."
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Saturday that a few rebels remained in the city and were being pursued by the military and the police. Mr. Roxas said sporadic fighting could continue in the city for two more weeks as the remaining rebels were located.
More than 200 people -- rebels, soldiers, police officers and civilians -- were killed during the standoff, and the clashes displaced more than 100,000 residents and strangled the economy of what had been a vibrant trading enclave.
The renewed fighting erupted Sept. 9, less than a year after President Benigno S. Aquino III signed a landmark peace deal with the largest Muslim separatist group in the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. More than 300 fighters from a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front, a separatist group left out of last year's deal, arrived by sea in Zamboanga City and tried to March to City Hall to raise a flag and declare independence.
The Philippine military confronted the rebels, who retreated to several seaside neighborhoods and took hundreds of hostages, according to military accounts. A rebel spokesman has said the group was making a peaceful march when it was attacked by government forces.
Abigail Valte, a spokeswoman for President Aquino, said Saturday that the government had accounted for all those believed to have been held hostage.
The military had not yet located Habier Malik, the rebel ground commander of the operation in Zamboanga City, said Mr. Gazmin, the defense secretary.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.