Atty. Laisa Alamia, executive secretary, said that fleeing Muslims villagers in Marawi City would find it hard to observe Ramadan, especially the fasting part of the traditional religious season. That has slowed efforts to end the most serious crisis President Rodrigo Duterte has faced since he took power almost a year ago.
The question raised was: with the police and soldiers having set up checkpoints within and around the city, how could the Maute Group still manage to block these civilians?
As the government retakes much of the city, the scope of the battle is becoming clearer.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who declared martial law on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippineson Tuesday night, vowed to crack down on local militants who have alleged links with ISIS and seek to carve out a caliphate out of Mindanao.
The Maute have emerged from the glut of bandit and separatist groups in the southern Philippines and are a tactically smart, social media savvy group eager to align with Islamic State militants. Civilians waved flags from their windows to show they are not combatants.
"These are civilians, women".
"I saw them near the highway".
Troops also recovered the bodies of three women, four men and one child near a state university in Marawi on Saturday, Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said.
They said militants had also occupied higher ground in the city, enabling them to slow down or stop assaults from the security forces.
Wadi said he expected the militants to scatter after suffering casualties but then regroup, winning from the experience a "badge of honour" that could draw IS fighters fleeing the Middle East battlefields.
Duterte has warned of "contamination" by ISIS, exploiting the poverty, lawlessness and porous borders of predominantly Muslim areas of Mindanao island to establish a base for radicals from Southeast Asia and beyond. "You can say that ISIS is here already", he said. Many sent desperate text messages begging to be rescued and reporting that their homes had been destroyed, said Zia Alonto Adiong, an official in Lanao del Sur province, one of the country's poorest. The gunmen were still holding out in two areas and soldiers have begun door-to-door searches.
The military announced on Saturday, the start of the Holy month of Ramadan, that it would intensify the bombing campaign.
He said Hapilon suffered a stroke after a government airstrike wounded him in January.
The crisis has become dire since about 100 militants rampaged through the city last Tuesday after a botched military raid on the hide-out of Isnilon Hapilon, an Arabic-speaking preacher and combat specialist who is on Washington's most wanted list. "O$3 fficials said there were foreign fighters among the militants killed so far. We appeal for everyones understanding as we take the necessary steps to accomplish our mission and prevent the lost of more innocent lives and damage to private and public property", Padilla said. He also heads an alliance of at least 10 smaller militant groups, including the Maute, which has a presence in Marawi and was instrumental in fighting off government forces in this week's battles.
The United States listed one of the world's most risky terrorists and has offered a bounty of US$5 million (S$6.9 million) for his capture.
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