Nearly 85,000 forced to flee Philippine region under martial law

Anadolu Agency Photo
Anadolu Agency Photo

Around 85,000 people have been forced to leave their homes as an ongoing military operation against Daesh-linked terrorists in the Philippines' Marawi City entered seventh day.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) government's crisis management center recorded a total of 84,460 internally displaced persons.

Those who fled are either staying at designated evacuation centers or at their relatives' houses in nearby towns, Humanitarian and Emergency Action and Response Team's focal person Myrna Jo Henry told Anadolu Agency.

He said there are at least 3,717 stranded individuals in the city, while 59 people have gone missing.

According to ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, the incursion of the local terror group Maute and some elements of the Abu Sayyaf into Marawi has inflicted immense suffering to residents in the city.

Marawi, one of the only two cities in the ARMM, is situated in the province of Lanao del Sur and has a population of more than 200,000, a vast majority of whom are Muslims, based on the 2015 census.

Hataman said the terror and displacement made the observance of Ramadan unusually somber and difficult for the city's significant Muslim population.

Zia Alonto Adiong, a politician coordinating efforts to evacuate civilians, said that several civilians who remained in Marawi despite the clashes lacked food and wanted the military to stop air strikes.

The military said Monday that seven consecutive days of fighting between government troops and Daesh-linked terrorists in Marawi City had already resulted in the deaths of 100 people.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Col. Edgar Arevalo said at a news conference that the fighting had also left dozens of soldiers and policemen wounded.

"61 Maute extremists, 20 government troops and 19 civilians were among the fatalities," Arevalo told reporters.

Heavy clashes erupted in Marawi last Tuesday after a botched mission to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon. This prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to put the entire island of Mindanao under martial law.

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