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A war amid disaster?

Text and photos by LUIS LIWANAG

TACLOBAN, Leyte–Residents of this city and nearby towns joined an exodus toward safety Wednesday, after hearing of reports of an alleged gunfight between soldiers and leftist guerillas, who were supposed to have held hostage food convoys.

People scampered away from Alang-alang town where an alleged gunfight involving New People’s Army guerillas supposedly took place. Police officials denied any such incident, but a truckload of soldiers in full battle gear was sent out to pursue the rebels, scaring local residents and causing momentary chaos.

Local media earlier reported that NPA rebels had held hostage the warehouse of the National Food Authority. But what did happen, according to NFA officials, was that residents were raiding NFA warehouses in search of food, which was scarce.

People have been increasingly frustrated over the lack of food and other supplies that have been coming to Tacloban and other cities ravaged by Yolanda, including Ormoc City. In Ormoc, gasoline was a valuable commodity, and people were lining up hoping to get whatever fuel they could buy.

Body bags have also become a common sight here, as the city waited to bury its dead. Government estimates that some 2,500 people have died from Yolanda’s fury.