The battle between ISIL-allied Islamic extremists and Philippine troops has entered a fourth day. At least 11 soldiers and 31 militants have been killed. And the militants still control a portion of the city of Marawi.
CGTN’s Barnaby Lo reports.
They’ve been fleeing by the thousands, everyday since Wednesday, the day after the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups clashed with Philippine security forces in Marawi City.
On the same day, the ISIL-aligned militants seized the southern Philippine city, and has since been wrestling with the military for control.
It was terrifying. The terrorists were heavily armed. And they were young. There were so many of them.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law over the entire Southern Philippines.
A significant number of troops have been streaming into Marawi in a bid to end the crisis and the terror threat once and for all.
From inside a hospital on Wednesday, one could heard gunshots, mortars, and airstrikes that went on for hours. Even the military’s main camp in Marawi wasn’t spared; soldiers about to board a chopper were fired at by snipers. But on Friday, gunshots and bombardments seemed more sporadic.
But as we sought to film Philippine government troops battling the militants, we took what we didn’t know then was a wrong turn.
The street was long, but there was hardly anyone. It wasn’t unlike other seemingly abandoned areas of Marawi that we’ve driven by, but once we were about to cross a bridge, we saw what was surely a sign to retreat – an ISIL flag.
We had to turn around because we were not finding soldiers there. What we found instead appeared to be a village that is still under the control of Filipino Muslim extremists who’ve aligned themselves with ISIL.
Local government officials do not deny that parts of the city have not been recovered by the military, but they trust they will.
Those who’ve been displaced hope that that time can come sooner than later. They say they can’t live a life of war forever.