Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Close  
newsinfo / Nation

Gov’t troops capture key bridge near Marawi militants

newsinfo / Nation
  • share this

Gov’t troops capture key bridge near Marawi militants

/ 01:10 AM August 01, 2017

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla. EXEQUIEL SUPERA/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Published: 2:06 p.m., July 31, 2017 | Updated: 1:10 a.m., Aug. 1, 2017

Government forces have captured a key bridge leading to the main position of Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Marawi City but will not use it to launch a major assault and instead press efforts to rescue civilian hostages, the military said on Monday.

Troops gained control last week of Mapandi bridge, which leads to Marawi’s commercial center, where just 40 to 60 remaining terrorists from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups are believed to be holding 80 to 100 civilian hostages, mostly in a large mosque, according to Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“We now have access to ground zero,” Padilla said at a news conference in Malacañang, referring to the bridge over Marawi’s Agus River.

ADVERTISEMENT

Main objective

The bridge can now be used to rapidly transport troops and combat supplies to the war zone, but Padilla said the military’s main objective was “to rescue the hostages.”

President Duterte has ordered troops to ensure the safety of the hostages and not launch a massive assault that can endanger the captives even if that prolongs the terrorist siege of Marawi, which has already dragged for more than two months.

A total of 650 people have died in the fighting—491 terrorists, 114 soldiers and police, and 45 civilians—since the terrorists stormed Marawi on May 23 to establish an enclave of the Middle East-based Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in Southeast Asia.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expressed fears on Monday that the terrorists, who have been using their hostages as human shields, may force some of the captives to serve as suicide bombers.

“That’s one of the fears of our soldiers—[the terrorists] may let loose the civilians but force them to carry bombs,” Lorenzana said.

Padilla said the terrorists were holed up in buildings in two villages within a square-kilometer pocket of the city center.

500 buildings

There are around 500 buildings in the area that troops have to clear of booby traps and unexploded ordnance, further slowing down the campaign to retake the city from the terrorists, Padilla said.

The terrorists have left so many improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordnance, slowing down the clearing operation, he added.

ADVERTISEMENT

Padilla said troops were risking their lives in clearing the buildings but the job had to be done to prevent loss of life and limb from explosions when residents returned to the city after the crisis.

More than 104,000 families, or 467,000 people, have fled their homes to avoid getting trapped in the fighting. They are staying in government-run shelters in Iligan City and surrounding areas.

Padilla said Marawi residents remained barred from returning to the city.

Only residents of villages outside the city have been allowed to return to their homes, he said.

Stray bullets

“Some Marawi residents tried to return to the city, but we had an incident where a returning resident was hit by a stray bullet. Good thing the resident did not die,” Padilla said.

The return of faculty and students to Mindanao State University has also been delayed, as the school remains vulnerable to stray bullets, he said. —Reports from AP and Philip C. Tubeza

.

Inquirer calls for support for the victims in Marawi City

Responding to appeals for help, the Philippine Daily Inquirer is extending its relief to victims of the attacks in Marawi City

Cash donations may be deposited in the Inquirer Foundation Corp. Banco De Oro (BDO) Current Account No: 007960018860.

Inquiries may be addressed to Inquirer’s Corporate Affairs office through Connie Kalagayan at 897-4426, ckalagayan@inquirer.com.ph and Bianca Kasilag-Macahilig at 897-8808 local 352, bkasilag@inquirer.com.ph.

For donation from overseas:

Inquirer Foundation Corp account:

Inquirer Foundation Corp. Banco De Oro (BDO) Current Account No: 007960018860

Swift Code: BNORPHMM

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: bridge, Mapandi, Mapandi bridge, Marawi, Marawi City, militant, Military, Padilla, troop, Troops
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.




© Copyright 1997-2016 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved