Marawi is the largest city (about 200,000 people) in the Philippine province of Lanao del Sur, on the island of Mindanao. Over the weekend, militant Muslims associated with the terrorist groups Abu Sayyaf and loyal to ISIS overran this Philippine city. The Philippine military tried to evacuate most of the residents, but it’s been difficult since the Muslim militants blend in with the local people.
Hundreds of desperate residents remained trapped in this besieged southern Philippine city on Monday, as local militants loyal to the Islamic State and backed by foreign fighters stubbornly held their ground against government troops.
Troops have so far cleared just half of Marawi of militants from the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups, but the insurgents have broken up into small groups and proved elusive, said Zia Alonto Adiong, a spokesman for the Lanao del Sur provincial government. The military’s inability to drive out the rebels has become a major challenge for the government of President Rodrigo Duterte, who declared martial law in the region last week in vowing to quash the insurgents.
In a sign that the standoff was turning into a long-term siege, Mr. Alonto said the province had imposed a nightly curfew and called on civilians to help the military fight and subdue the militants…
The Philippine government is encouraging citizens to make arrests of the militants, but most are afraid to do so. Martial law has been declared in that area of the Philippines as government troops fight to take back the city from the militants. The death toll so far has reached 61 militants, 20 government troops and 19 civilians, but those numbers are bound to increase.