Via UBC News – The Philippines’ Armed Forces said on Monday that Islamic militants have been significantly pushed back in Marawi while ongoing clashes since May 23 have left an estimated 100 people dead.
Military spokesman Brig Gen Restito Padilla said that Filipino soldiers were in “complete control of the city except in certain areas” held by the militant Maute, who have announced their allegiance to the Syrian-based Daesh (IS). Islamist group Abu Sayyaf Salafi is also present on the side of Maute.
Mr. Padilla said 18 military and police forces have been killed, while 61 Maute fatalities have occurred.
Last Tuesday, Filipino security forces had attempted to capture Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf group, who was likely in the city to meet with militants of the Maute group.
When militant forces fired on Filipino government forces in defense, a firefight erupted with Muate being called on to back Abu Sayyaf up. On May 26, Manila recognized that the militants wanted to declare a wilayat, or province, of Daesh in the Philipines through their capture of Marawi, which is the regional capital.
Reports have identified that several hostages are currently being held in Marawi, with “40 to 50 armed elements” still present in the city, according to Padilla.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the island of Mindanao in response to the situation last week.
Although mainly a Catholic country, the south-east Asian island nation of the Philippines has a strong Muslim population on the southern island of Mindanao, with Marawi known as “Islamic City”, according to local media.