Philippine army fighting to retake southern city
Military forces in the Philippines have launched a heavy offensive to retake a southern city from Daesh terrorists.
On Thursday, the Philippine army dispatched about 100 soldiers, backed by attack helicopters, to seize control of the mainly Muslim city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur Province from a group called Maute, which has pledged allegiance to Daesh.
The group is holding a number of hostages and has reportedly murdered at least 11 civilians in Marawi.
Reports said that the sound of gunfire and explosions could be heard, and plumes of black smoke rose from the direction of the city center.
“We’re confronting maybe 30 to 40 remaining from the local terrorist group,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, a local military spokesman.
“The military is conducting precise, surgical operations to flush them out… The situation is very fluid and movements are dynamic because we wanted to out-step and out-maneuver them,” he added.
The military spokesman also called on people in the besieged city to stay indoors or take shelter at safe places.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has imposed martial law across the southern third of the county to prevent collateral damage. The Daesh militants have forced 200,000 Marawi residents to flee.
The Maute group is one of the less than a dozen new armed groups that have pledged allegiance to Daesh and formed a loose alliance in the southern Philippines in recent years.
It has been blamed for a bomb attack that killed 15 people in the southern Davao City, President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown, last September and a number of attacks on government forces in Lanao, although it has faced setbacks from a series of military offensives.