It has now been four days since armed insurgents, reportedly linked to the so-called Islamic State, stormed Marawi, a city in the southern part of the Philippines.
The crisis has brought such chaos that it has prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately invoke martial law not just in the city but on the entire island of Mindanao, reports RT. Since then, social media platforms have been flooded with terrifying images revealing the situation in the besieged city.
Maute, the ISIS-linked group, has reportedly set fires on various structures, including a hospital and a school, laid siege to a prison, seized hostages and entered civilian homes. The residents who were taken hostage by the terrorists were later rescued by government forces.
Based on reports from authorities, 31 Maute militants and 13 government troopers have been killed so far in the battle for control of the city. There were no reports of civilians among the dead.
During a lull in the fighting, Marawi citizens were able to evacuate to the neighboring towns of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. Those who lived near the military base camp chose to stay behind. According to ABS-CBN, parts of the city where initial skirmishes took place have become “ghost towns”.
The Philippine defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, has estimated the siege of Marawi to be over in a week or less.
In an earlier speech, Duterte gave a warning that the country could “implode” if the threat from militants is not squashed immediately:
“I have always said do not force my hand into it because if I start to declare martial law, I will solve all the problems of Mindanao connected with law and order,” he was quoted as saying. “The remaining five years of my time, it will be remembered as an administration that did nothing in the face of violence… I will not accept that kind of s**t.”