Death toll in Philippines clashes climbs to 95

Pauline Gross
May 30, 2017

The little-known Maute group has staged similar, days-long sieges on Mindanao island but none on the scale of Marawi, where witnesses said flags resembling those of Islamic State had been flown and some men were wearing black headbands.

In the southern Philippines, heavy fighting continues between military forces and Daesh militants, who have taken positions in urban areas and are facing a government operation to drive them out.

The violence prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law on Tuesday across the southern third of the Philippines to quell what he said was a fast-growing threat of "militants" linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

The main Muslim rebel groups have signed accords with the government aimed at forging a final peace, giving up their separatist ambitions in return for autonomy.

"All terror groups are opposed by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-New People's Army (NPA)", Luis Jalandoni, the Maoist-led rebel group's chief peace negotiator, told domestic broadcaster ANC from the Netherlands.

He said there were still dead bodies in Marawi and civilians wanted the military to stop air strikes.

The city of Marawi was still largely sealed off Thursday, although automatic gunfire and explosions could be heard. "The men were executed on the road above, the police commander on the scene said", Sullivan told NPR's Newscast.

Meanwhile, most of Marawi's 200,000 residents have fled, many seeking refuge in the nearby town of Iligan, which is on lockdown over fears that militants may have sneaked into the city.

Padilla said the ongoing military air strikes and military actions focus on freeing a still undetermined number of civilians trapped in the city's interiors. "Have mercy on us, we don't have any more water to drink", read one.

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The military could not say exactly when the problem will be over, but according to AFP Spokesperson Brig. Scores of prisoners, among them militants, were freed when rebels took over two detention facilities.

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Washington has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Hapilon's capture, but he has proved elusive.

Residents look at bodies found in a ravine on the outskirts of Marawi on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Sunday.

About 100 people have died in the violence, including some civilians, although authorities were still trying to assess the scope of the bloodshed.

It was unclear whether those eight were included in the military's count of civilian deaths.

Padilla said 61 militants have been killed together with 11 soldiers and four police since Tuesday, when a failed raid to capture one of Asia's top militants triggered an attack on the city.

"In as much as we would like to avoid collateral damage, these rebels are forcing the hand of government by hiding and holding out inside private homes, government buildings and other facilities", said military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla.

Police patrol the streets of Marawi city as government troops battle with Muslim militants who continue to hold their ground in some areas of the city for nearly a week Monday, May 29, 2017 in southern Philippines. "Hence, it is now increasingly becoming necessary to use more surgical airstrikes to clear the city and to bring this rebellion to a quicker end".

He then said if any of his men were to rape three women, he would claim responsibility.

Other reports by GizPress

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