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Crisis Response Journal Crisis Response Journal

Thousands of families displaced after fleeing fighting in Marawi, Philippines

Posted on 30th May 2017 at 10:46am

Update: Channel News Asia reports that Government forces have regained complete control of the city of Marawi and the clashes with the Islamic State-linked Maute group will soon come to an end, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Monday (May 29), according to Turkey's Anadolu Agency (AA).

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that the Philippine military says it has made gains retaking Marawi city from Islamist militants amid clashes that have left about 100 people dead.

Smoke rises as houses burn in Marawi City, southern Philippines, on May 27, 2017. According to news reports, there are around 2,040 families in different evacuation centers in Saguiaran all of them forced to flee from the fighting (Richel V Umel/Rex)

According to the military, militants now control only small pockets within the southern Philippine city.

But there are still reports of fighting on the ground and thousands of civilians trapped.

Nineteen civilians are known to have died. Some were found dead in a ravine with gunshot wounds to their heads.

Militants allied to the so-called Islamic State came out onto the streets of Marawi last week after the army attempted to capture a top militant leader.

Many residents fled the city as clashes erupted, but a local official said about 2,000 people were unable to leave areas held by the militants.

Spokesman for the Philippines' Armed Forces Brig Gen Restituto Padilla said troops were in "complete control of the city except for certain areas" held by militants from the Maute group, the local militants who have declared allegiance to IS.

He said that "around 40 to 50 armed elements" were still present in the city, but this may increase given the militants' activities on the ground including the freeing of more than 100 prisoners from a local jail.

He added that 18 military and police personnel had been killed and more than 61 Maute fighters.

Reports say the remaining fighters are still believed to be holding several hostages, including a priest and a number of Christians.

The violence began when the army failed in its attempt to capture Isnilon Hapilon, believed to be the main IS leader in the Philippines and linked to the Maute.

In response the Maute swarmed the city, taking over a hospital and burning down buildings.

President Rodrigo Duterte then declared martial law on the southern island of Mindanao, where Marawi is located.

The Philippines, which is majority Catholic, has faced Muslim separatist movements for decades in Mindanao with its significant Muslim population.

Marawi is known as ‘Islamic City’ in the Philippines for its Muslim-majority population.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2017 BBC

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