Aerial shot from a drone of Banggolo and Bubonga barangays in Marawi City taken on 8 June 2017 shows the destruction and fire from intense fighting between government troops and the Maute group and other rebels. Video: Val Cuenca/ABS-CBN
By Mong Palatino in Manila
On 23 May 2017, a group with alleged links to ISIS attacked some parts of Marawi City on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. In response, the government declared martial law in Mindanao to pursue the attackers and prevent the spread of ISIS in other towns.
The clash between the military and the militant group known as Maute forced the mass evacuation of Marawi residents. As of June 7, more than 46,000 families, or 220,000 persons, have been displaced from their homes.
The government said it has provided 33 evacuation centers, but these could only shelter 18,000 people.
After three weeks of being a battle zone, hundreds of houses and other buildings in Marawi were destroyed. The extent of the damage has been revealed with rescuers, residents, and journalists uploading photos and videos of Marawi’s town proper.
The Maute group is blamed for the destruction, but the military is also being held accountable because of its continuous airstrikes. The military claimed it is conducting “surgical bombing” operations, but some residents said the air bombs are being dropped indiscriminately.
Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra is saddened by the destruction in his city:
I weep for all the civilians who were mercilessly killed, I weep for the lost homes of my people and I weep for the loss of the true essence of Islam in the people who caused all these destructions to our lives and properties.
As of May 30, the government said 19 civilians had been killed by terrorists.
It is ordinary civilians who are enduring the greatest suffering as the crisis continues to drag on. And even if the clashes end soon, rehabilitating Marawi is expected to be a more difficult task because of the destruction caused by the fighting between the military and the militants.
Below are photos showing the situation in Marawi today: