City Under Siege: Death Toll in Philippines Nears 100

Philippines (Sputnik) – The Philippines’ military discovered the bodies of executed civilians dumped on the streets of the city of Marawi over the weekend, raising the total death toll over six days of fighting to nearly 100.

Government forces continue to fight the Maute terrorist group, which recently joined forces with fellow jihadists Abu Sayyaf.

Two groups of eight civilians have been found in two different parts of the besieged city of Marawi, all executed with a shot to the head, according to various media reports.

One group comprised eight men who were part of evacuation convoy; they were reportedly thrown into a ravine in the Emi village near Marawi. Another group of victims included four men, three women and a child.

The latest victims have brought the death toll of the six days of violence to nearly 100, with at least 19 civilians, 13 soldiers and 51 militants killed since the fighting erupted in the city. The fighting started after government forces conducted a raid in attempt to catch Isnilon Hapilon, an Islamic preacher and a commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group, known to be affiliated with Daesh. The raid failed unexpectedly when reinforcements came to relieve the militants.

The militant group retaliated by taking over the city, setting buildings on fire and battling government forces in the streets.

At least 2,000 civilians are believed to be still trapped within Marawi, and are sending desperate messages asking for evacuation, medical treatment and drinking water, according to the Independent.

Evacuees from Marawi City and nearby towns of Lanao del Sur are now housed at Maria Cristina Evacuation Center – By Angelo Dologmandin for Philippine Information Agency – Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

“Have mercy on us, we don’t have any more water to drink,” read one of the messages sent to a hotline set up for trapped residents. Another message asked authorities to retrieve three bodies that were rotting near a resident’s home.

According to Philippines’ military spokesman Restituto Padilla, the Islamists are weakening.

“We believe they’re now low on ammunition and food,” he said, speaking by phone from the capital, Manila, adding that there is significantly less resistance now than compared to the first days of battle.

The violent outbreak has caused Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte to declare 60 days of martial law on the island of Mindanao, where Marawi is located.

This report prepared by Sputnik