The week-long clashes between Philippine Government troops and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels taking place in the country’s southern port city of Zamboanga have left 99 people dead, including four civilians, according to the country’s military reports.

During the fighting, 86 rebels and nine soldiers have also been killed.

In the days since a standoff sparked in the area on September 9, about 7,000 residents have evacuated while hundreds of civilians have remained trapped in the city, used as hostages or human shields by the MNLF.

While 149 hostages have reportedly escaped, the city's police chief Senior Superintendent Chiquito Malayo is believed to have been kidnapped on the morning of September 17 by the rebels.

Philippine authorities have said a military offensive led by helicopters on September 13 allowed them to retake 70 percent of the city.

The troops are now striving to drive the MNLF from two coastal villages outside Zamboanga, where fighting has occurred over many days and caused damage of 50 billion peso (1.1 billion USD) a day.

The MNLF signed a peace deal with the government in 1996. However, its members have continued conducting assaults due to the government breaking their deal to build an Islamic autonomous region in the southern Philippines .

Years of violence in the area has left about 150,000 people dead.-VNA