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Massive damage reported as thousands trapped in Marawi

Local officials to ask AFP for plan to pull out 2,000 trapped civilians
/ 09:26 PM May 28, 2017

Fire rages at the suspected Muslim militant positions following airstrikes by helicopter gunships as Philippine marines walk to the frontline in the continuing assaults to retake control of some areas of Marawi city Sunday, May 28, 2017 in southern Philippines. Philippine forces launched fresh airstrikes Sunday to drive out militants linked to the Islamic State group after days of fighting left corpses in the streets and hundreds of civilians begging for rescue from a besieged southern city. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MARAWI CITY – Widespread destruction of property has been reported in Marawi City as more than 2,000 civilians are still trapped by the fighting between government forces and terrorists.

Regional Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson for the provincial government, said they would seek the advice of the military on how to deal with the trapped residents.

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Adiong said more than 2,000 civilians were still trapped in Marawi City as of Sunday, as fighting continued.

“(We told them to) just go to the safest area and wait, wait and wait. Maybe in their house. Lock their doors. Do not let anyone enter your house and wait for us and we will come to you,” he said.

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“The conflict has gone beyond proportion. The magnitude of damage — it’s really massive. The police and military are doing their job based on the demand of time,” he added.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team (ARMM-Heart) reported that a total of 42,142 people have evacuated as of 5 p.m. Saturday.

Some 30,600 people are staying in different evacuation centers, while 11,500 others are seeking shelter with relatives outside Marawi City.

ARMM-Heart said at least 2,200 were still stranded in Marawi’s 25 barangays (villages) as of Sunday (May 28).

Adiong said they were trying to get clearance from authorities to reach the trapped civilians.

Adiong said seven civilians were reportedly hit by shrapnel from a 105mm fired by the military on Friday.

There were reports that terrorists had agreed to allow trapped civilians to leave their homes.

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Agakhan Sharief, known in the province as Bin Laden because of his resemblance to the late al-Qaeda leader, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Sunday that he spoke with the group and was told that local officials could rescue the trapped civilians provided they would not bring in soldiers.

“I ask them if we can rescue them (civilians), they respond it’s okay. I ask them again can we enter your area, they said you’re all welcome provided no intelligence and Christians,” said Sharief, who has been helping in the rescue efforts.

Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesperson of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, told reporters that they have been launching surgical airstrikes because the terrorists have built fortifications.

“They occupied buildings. They have snipers to inflict casualties. We will push them out of the city,” he said.

“Our enemies are looting, moving around and destroying properties. We have contained them in some of the areas. We have prepositioned enough forces to contain their movement,” Herrera said.

As of 3 p.m. Sunday, airstrikes continued.

On Sunday morning, eight bodies were found dumped in a ravine along the highway here.

Police Officer 3 Jamael Mangabang, police sub-station commander, said a resident informed them about the bodies at 8:30 a.m. not far from the entrance of the city in the village of Imebito.

Mangabang said fresh bloodstains were also seen along the road.

One of the dead bodies had a placard with the word “Monafic,” (meaning hypocrite), written on it.

Monafic, or Munafiq, is a term for Muslims accused of being hypocrites.

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said some of the victims were Maranaos. He said it could be that the victims refused to join the Maute group in fighting government forces.

Resident Jarah Pagarungan said the victims were workers of her bakery.

“They are not bad people. We’ve been looking for them since yesterday,” she said on Sunday.

She said the men decided to evacuate to Iligan on Saturday.

Police found slugs of a .45-pistol near the bodies. (With reports from Richel V. Umel, Inquirer Mindanao, INQ)  SFM

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TAGS: 103rd Infantry Brigade, abu sayyaf, Acts of terror, Agakhan Sharief, Armed conflict, Armed Forces of the Philippines, ARMM Regional Assembly, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, civilians caught in the crossfire, clash, Counter-terrorism, Crime, Criminality, Defense, destruction of property, Encounter, Evacuation, gun battle, Insurgency, Jarah Pagarungan, Lanao del Sur, Law and Order, law enforcement, Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, manhunt for terrorists, Marawi City, Marawi City attacks, Martial law, Mass murder, Maute group, Military operations, Mindanao martial law, multiple murder, Philippine Army, Police Officer 3 Jamael Mangabang, public order and safety, Public safety, pursuit operations, rebellion, rescue, Safety, Security, terror attacks, Terrorism, War, war casualties, war fatalities, Zia Alonto Adiong
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