Military making gains against militants in Philippines siege city

Cheryl Sanders
May 29, 2017

The Philippine military said on Monday it was close to retaking a southern city held for a seventh day by Islamist militants, as helicopters unleashed more rockets on positions held by the rebels aligned with Islamic State.

Troops also recovered the bodies of three women, four men and one child near a state university in Marawi on Saturday, Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said.

The eight dead, a lot of them shot in the head and some with hands tied behind their backs, were laborers who were stopped by Islamic State-linked militants on the outskirts of Marawi City while trying to flee clashes, according to police. A paper sign attached to one of the men indicated the victims "betrayed their faith", he said. "The magnitude of the degree of the damage and the people that are's really massive".

Meanwhile, an executive official of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao expressed concerns over the effect of martial law and the crisis on the Muslims displaced by the ongoing war.

Eight bodies were found on Sunday (May 28) morning dumped off a bridge on the outskirts of Marawi, which is normally a bustling city of 200,000 people known as a centre of Islamic culture and education.

Mr Padilla said the 16 civilians' bodies had been found in two locations.

The militants seemed significantly weakened by the ongoing military operation and are showing less resistance, but still pose grave danger to locals, Padilla said. The militants took an unknown number of hostages, some of which they probably executed.

"They have been sending us text messages, calling our hotline, requesting us to send rescue teams but we can not simply go to areas which are inaccessible to us", Mr Adiong told AFP.

Though most people have left, thousands are stranded, anxious they could be intercepted by militants at checkpoints on routes out of the city.

Myrna Jocelyn Henry, a staff of the ARMM, said some Muslims facilitated the safe relocation of more than a hundred Christians to safer areas in the past four days. "We are still validating other reports of atrocities". "The ARMM government is thankful to these Muslim Marawi residents for helping save the lives of non-Muslims", Henry said. Mr Duterte said on May 27 that he is open to Misuari's offer to augment government troops with his own fighters.

The Associated Press was shown the messages by relief workers at a provincial government complex in Marawi. "Just practise pulling the trigger", he said.

Fighting in Marawi started in the afternoon of May 23 as state enforcers tried to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

It was reported that they are not injured and in a good condition following the shootout that broke between the Philippine Military and the Maute armed group.

"In what was intended as a joke, Duterte said the victim was "beautiful" and as mayor of Davao city where the riot took place, he should have been first in line". Its battlefield capability has been a serious challenge to a military with far greater numbers and firepower. The siege "seems to be an effort by ISIS-inspired local groups to be recognized as a province of their caliphate", reporter Michael Sullivan told NPR yesterday, and the Philippine government is now taking the threat posed by ISIS more seriously.

The government believes the Maute carried out their assault before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to capture the attention of Islamic State and earn recognition as a Southeast Asian affiliate.

"Our forces are in complete control of the city, except for certain areas where they continue to hold".

Other reports by iNewsToday