An army spokesman has said that government troops are in “complete control” of Marawi city after clashes with Islamic State-affiliated terrorists — except in “certain areas”.
Speaking today (Monday, May 29), AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla denied claims that half of Marawi City was still besieged the Maute group and other jihadists.
“We have complete control of the city, by the way, contrary to what is coming out in social media and other information, perhaps some fake news. It is not true that half of the city is controlled by the rebels. Totally untrue.”
However, later in the same press conference at the Malacañang, he appeared to contradict himself, saying: “Our forces are in complete control of the city, except for certain areas of the city where they continue to hold.
“These are the subject of clearing operations that are continuously being conducted.
“We are in full control, meaning to say we can control who comes in and who comes out, who moves around and who doesn’t. And we’re trying to isolate all these pockets of resistance that have remained.
“Although we do not have a timeline, but we’re seeking to end this as soon as possible. Our ground commanders have assured that the end is almost there. So, we hope to get clear results.”
The clashes in Marawi City erupted last Tuesday (May 23) after the military launched a failed raid against a Maute safe house, where it was believed IS’s regional representative, or ‘emir’, was behing harboured. Isnilon Hapilon, who is also a leader of Abu Sayyaf, has a $5 million FBI bounty on his head.
Intelligence suggests he may be have been in Marawi to bring together the region’s various jihadi groups under the IS umbrella. Such a gathering of fanatics could help to explain the widespread chaos that broke out immediately after the raid, when militants went on the rampage under the black flag of IS.
Within hours of violence erupting in the city President Duterte declared martial law across the entirety of Mindanao before cutting short a visit to Russia.
The human cost:
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella has given the number of casualties as of 6pm yesterday (May 28):
Civilians killed by Maute members – 19 (Unknown numbers taken hostage, including a priest and his congregation).
Maute members killed – 61 (confirmed by body count – 42, confirmed by eye witnesses – 19)
Government’s casualties: killed in action – 15 AFP, 3 PNP; wounded in action – 61 AFP, 3 PNP
Mr Abella also said there were 390 civilians rescued amid the clashes. The government’s security forces were also able to recover more than 40 firearms.
He also reported that as of today, 12,509 families or 59,665 people had been displaced.