Philippine military says it regained most of Marawi from militants

Frederick Owens
June 8, 2017

Fighting broke out in the city between terrorist fighters and troops on May 23, making Tuesday the eighth day of clashes.

"I think it's horrific for the civilian people who are in there and we really hope that both sides can agree that the civilians should be given the opportunity to come out", the deputy head of the ICRC's Philippine delegation, Martin Thalmann, said in Marawi.

President Rodrigo Duterte has imposed martial law in the area and told troops that he will protect them if they commit abuses during the conflict, including rape, leading to an outcry from rights activists and some lawmakers.

Padilla expressed confidence the joint operations of the military and the police would turn out to be successful.

"We do not have a timeline but we're seeking to end this as soon as possible", Padilla said. The militants took over several buildings and burned others.

Earlier, a Singapore online media quoted a think tank group saying that a militant training center was set up in the Southern Philippines and was training Indonesians, Malaysians, Singaporeans, Thai and Arab extremists.

However Padilla warned of more intense battles ahead, with the military believing three of the militants' main leaders were likely still in the city.

"We can not confirm it yet".

Padilla said the military had rescued 390 residents, who were being subjected to "some examination of sorts to ensure they are not part of the group that has been waging war here and creating trouble".

Philippine National Police Chief Ronald de la Rosa said the operation was taking time because the gunmen are taking advantage of the urban environment, moving quickly from building to building to evade capture.

"That is true. That is one of the objects of recovery of the PNP".

"We covered the mouths of our children".

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Ano also said today that the militants' commander, Isnilon Hapilon, was still hiding somewhere in the city.

"T$3 hey were land-mined [and] were ambushed".

More than 100 militants, government forces and civilians have been killed.

Up to 2,000 residents were trapped in areas held by the militants, according to the local government, and the International Committee of the Red Cross had voiced alarm they would be caught in the bombing raids or crossfire.

Hapilon was being protected by members of the local Maute group, a small band of militants who has declared allegiance to IS, according to the government.

Gen. Eduardo Ano told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that the military has made advances in containing the weeklong siege of Marawi city.

He said the fighters also sought to kill Christians in nearby Iligan city during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

Over the past week, his fighters have shown their muscle, withstanding a sustained assault by the Philippine military and increasing fears that the Islamic State group's violent ideology is gaining a foothold in this country's restive southern islands, where a Muslim separatist rebellion has raged for decades.

Meanwhile, the city of Iligan, some 38 kilometres from Marawi, was placed on a lockdown on Monday amid reports that Maute rebels disguised as civilians had blended with the evacuees.

Analysts and military officials say Maute's attack on Marawi is their way of getting the attention of the ISIS, which the government says is seeking to establish a wilayat (province) in the Philippines.

The Marawi violence was meant to highlight their credentials to IS, security analysts have said.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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