27 buried in mass grave in Marawi
MARAWI CITY — Twenty-seven bodies were buried in a mass grave in a Muslim cemetery here on Monday as fighting between government forces and Islamic State-inspired terrorists raged for the 63rd day.
The 27 bodies were among 29 recovered by rescuers from the battle zone in Marawi’s commercial center.
Danilo Capin, owner of a funeral parlor in Iligan City, said two of the bodies were not buried in the mass grave in Maqbarah Muslim cemetery because the claimants were still waiting for the results of DNA tests.
The cemetery in Papandayan village lies 3 kilometers from the battle zone.
Blasts from government airstrikes rocked the city center as the bodies were buried.
It had been 63 days since fighting erupted after Maute and Abu Sayyaf gunmen waving black Islamic State (IS) flags stormed Marawi to set up an enclave for the Middle East-based jihadist group in Southeast Asia.
The fighting has cost the lives of more than 580 people, including 428 terrorists, 109 soldiers and police, and 45 civilians, according to the latest information from the military.
The conflict has displaced most of Marawi’s more than 200,000 residents, many of whom have been trying to return home in recent days but have been stopped by the government.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana met with religious leaders and residents of Marawi in Iligan City on Sunday and pleaded with them to delay their return.
“We want you to go back to your homes, but we cannot be sure when, as of the moment,” a statement released by the military’s Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) quoted Lorenzana as saying.
“Human lives are precious for us, that is why we want to make sure that by the time you return to your homes, you are already safe,” Lorenzana said.
The Department of National Defense said Lorenzana meeting with the Ranaw Ulama Leaders Conference “was prompted by the plan of displaced Marawi residents to march to Marawi and return to their homes today, July 24.”
Lorenzana, President Duterte’s martial law administrator, told the group that the government could not allow people to go back to their homes because fighting in Marawi remained intense, proof of which, he said, was that nine soldiers were killed and 26 others wounded on Sunday.
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