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Don’t ‘Occupy Marawi’ yet, Lanao women told

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Don’t ‘Occupy Marawi’ yet, Lanao women told

IN RUINS What remains of Marawi after a month of fighting. —JOSHUA MORALES/RADYO INQUIRER

MARAWI CITY — Lanao del Sur Vice Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. on Saturday urged organizers of the so-called “Occupy Marawi” to think twice before they force their way into the battle-scarred city as the plan would put people’s lives in danger.

“They said they already want to go home. We all want to go home, but how can we? The fighting is continuing,” Adiong told the Inquirer.

He said unless the military gave its clearance, the safety of civilians who would return home could not be guaranteed.

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Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesperson for Task Force Marawi, reminded those planning to go back to Marawi that nearly two months of fighting, which has left more than 500 people dead, has not stopped.

“Even in the capitol, which is considered relatively safe because it is outside of the main battle area, there are people being hit by stray bullets,” Herrera said.

A group of women earlier said they planned to head back to the city on July 24, the day President Duterte was to deliver his second State of the Nation Address.

“Any right-minded Maranao and (internally displaced person) should go if only to show the world that we are coming home. We have been suffering in evacuation centers,” said Bai Sittie Marohomsar, a 52-year-old evacuee who echoed sentiments typically expressed by others displaced by the Marawi conflict.

Marohomsar said they just want to go home. “We are not going to kill anyone … we are not going to fight with the government,” she said during a debriefing by a group of women in a Cagayan de Oro City hotel on Thursday.

Adiong said he would help people return home, “but not now, not until the military gives clearance.”

He said some quarters were taking advantage of the situation to push their own agenda and that certain civil society organizations, which he did not identify, “were not thinking about the welfare of the people.”

“Please do not inject politics into this crisis. This is not the time to be politicking,” he added without elaborating.

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Adiong said stray bullets have “rained” on the capitol site and wounded at least three people since fighting between government forces and Islamic State-inspired gunmen from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups erupted on May 23.

The latest victim was Sulaiman Mangorsi, a 55-year-old evacuee who was hit by a bullet while resting at his family’s assigned quarters on the second floor of a building inside the capitol compound on Thursday.

Mangorsi was lying beside his wife when he suddenly felt a stinging pain on his upper left arm, which then felt numb. He saw blood running down his arm and yelled for help.

He was taken to Amai Pakpak Medical Center about a kilometer away where doctors removed a 5.56 cal. slug that had hit the surface of a bone before lodging in a muscle.

The Inquirer had learned that a few hours before Mangorsi was hit, a stray bullet had wounded a soldier at an Army brigade headquarter close to the capitol compound. The military did not confirm or deny the report.

Australian journalist Adam Harvey was the first stray bullet victim. He survived a bullet to the neck.

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TAGS: Mamintal Adiong Jr., Marawi evacuees, Marawi siege, Occupy Marawi
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