Marawi, Philippines. Pitched battles continue between organized Islamic terrorists and Philippine Army troops as civilians ride out this storm made by man.
Civilians hoping to flee fighting in the besieged Philippines city of Marawi remained trapped on Sunday after a four-hour ceasefire to evacuate residents was marred by gunfire.About 400 local militants reinforced by about 40 foreign fighters stormed Marawi on May 23, using sophisticated battlefield tactics to take control of large swaths of the lakeside city.
About 125 were freed on Sunday, less than on previous days, despite government hopes that more than 1,000 would be able to leave a city battered by two weeks of intense fighting.
President Rodrigo Duterte predicted the siege would be over within days despite fierce resistance by fighters aligned to Islamic State in the dense urban heart of the southern Philippines city.“This will be over in about three more days,” Duterte said on Saturday after visiting a hospital in Cagayan de Oro where wounded soldiers were being treated.“I can end this war in 24 hours,” he said. “All I have to do is to bomb the whole place and level it to the ground.”
Local residents have told News Front that that government airstrikes caused extensive property damage and dozens of civilian deaths. Authorities lifted the civilian death toll from 20 to 38 on Sunday – but said all those deaths were caused by the ISIS linked terrorists.
Philippine President Duterte has asked the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), an Islamic separatist movement based on the Philippines island of Mindanao, to help negotiate a peace settlement with the Islamist fighters, who are predominantly drawn from the Maute Group based in and around Marawi.
The city under seige is led by Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra, who told News Front on Sunday morning he was expecting “more or less 1,000 plus to be rescued today”. In the end, 125 were evacuated, less than previous days when there were no ceasefires. About 2,000 civilians remain in the city.