Philippine forces make gains in southern city under siege

Philippine forces now control most of the southern city where militants linked to the Islamist group have launched a bloody siege there for almost a week, authorities said Monday.

Only small areas of Marawi are under the control of militants after six days of fighting, the brigadier said. General Restituto Padilla, the military spokesman. In recent days, the attackers managed to repel attack helicopters, armored vehicles and dozens of soldiers.

About 100 people were killed in the violence, including civilians, although authorities were still trying to assess the extent of the bloodshed.

“We can control who enters and leaves, moves and does not, and we try to isolate these remaining foci of resistance,” said General Padilla.

Philippine National Police chief Ronald de la Rosa said the operation takes time because Marawi is urban, allowing armed men to move quickly from one building to another to escape the capture.

“I can not give operational details, but I’m sure they are also human, they get tired,” he said.

The Marawi crisis, which has about 200,000 people, raised fears that extremism is growing in the southern Philippines as smaller militant groups unite and harmonize with the Islamic State group.

On Sunday, Filipino forces said they found the bodies in the streets, at least eight civilians were executed by militants.

The violence prompted President Rodrigo Duterte last week to declare 60-day martial law in the southern Philippines, where a Muslim separatist rebellion has been waging for decades.

General Padilla said Sunday that the bodies of four men, three women and a boy were found near a road near Mindanao State University in Marawi.

Eight other men were shot and thrown into a shallow ravine early Sunday morning in the village of Emi Marawi, police officer Jamail Mangadang said. A paper sign attached to one of the men said the victims had “betrayed their faith,” he said, identifying men as civilians.

Marawi is a predominantly Muslim city.

In addition to the deaths of civilians, General Padilla said that 61 militants, 11 soldiers and four policemen were among the dead.

Violence erupted last Tuesday as the government launched an operation to capture Isnilon Hapilon, who is on the list of Washington’s most wanted terrorists. But the operation was rampant and militant rampaging in the city, burning buildings and fighting against government forces in the streets.

A priest and several faithful were taken hostage. There was no information about his condition.

All groups are guided by the Islamic State group. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters that Hapilon had received funding from the Islamic State group.

Washington has offered a $ 5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Hapilon.

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