MARAWI CITY (MindaNews/31 August) — Fighting in Marawi City between government troops and the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group marked its 100th day on Wednesday with the military calling on the public to support its troops.
“The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) calls upon all our citizens of all walks of life and whatever faith to continue to manifest their support for our troops and unceasingly pray for an early resolution of this conflict,“ AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a statement.
Loud explosions can be heard from the Lanao del Sur Provincial Capitol as heavy fighting continued on Wednesday.
AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Ano said the soldiers have encircled the terrorists “in a 500 square pocket” in Marawi City.
“Our main goal is no way in and no way out for them,” Ano said in Manila.
AFP Western Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez estimated that the city will be liberated in “two to three weeks”.
The military yesterday allowed a group of some 50 journalists to cross Mapandi Bridge, which both sides fought for control since the early days of the siege.
It was below this bridge where 13 Marines were killed when the militants ambushed them as they climbed up the Agus River bank last June.
Government troops recaptured the bridge late last month.
On Wednesday, the streets leading to the bridge had been cleared of debris and other signs that clashes took place there.
A long line of blue tarp was hung along one side of the bridge to prevent snipers from targeting the journalists, according to Joint Task Force Marawi spokesperson Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay.
Petinglay said heavy fighting occurred in Bangolo, Marawi’s commercial district, only two blocks from the Mapandi bridge.
“Some sniper rifles can reach up to two kilometers,” she said.
Three military trucks and ambulances ferried the journalists to Mapandi Bridge crossing where they were told to stay for a while.
Military officials led by Brig. Gen. Melquiades Ordiales held a press conference on the street. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)