Philippine troops find stash of banknotes as fighters pull back
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 06, 2017,
Jun 06, 2017, 19:38
"But it is clear that the violence in Marawi is being waged by both Philippine and global criminals, and the southern part of Mindanao has always been used as a refuge by fugitives from Indonesia, Malaysia and other locations", Abella said.
But on Monday, officials gave conflicting estimates of how long it could take before militants were driven out of the city.
The ISIS-inspired fighters include hundreds of foreign extremists from Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya and Morocco.
Fighters linked to Islamic State have been cornered in a built-up sliver of the southern lakeside town after two weeks of intense combat.
AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año said they were on track to finishing the battle for Marawi City in three days.
Marawi residents who were able to escape told of the Maute fighters' brutal killing of Christians who were not able to leave the city.
The man, who identified himself as Cayamora Maute, was in a vehicle along with a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law and a woman believed to be his wife, when it was stopped at a checkpoint in Davao City, regional police official Alexander Tagum told a news conference.
"There are underground tunnels and basements that even a 500-pounder can not destroy".
The Philippines is predominantly Catholic except in Marawi, which holds the lone distinction as an Islamic city where 90 percent of around 200,000 people, who make up its population, are Muslims.
Fighting erupted in Marawi after a bungled raid aimed at capturing Isnilon Hapilon, whom Islamic State proclaimed as its "emir" of Southeast Asia previous year after he pledged allegiance to the group. The US is offering a separate $5m bounty for Hapilon.
Armed Forces spokesman Restituto Padilla however said the military continues to face "complications" such as the enemies' use of human shields and places of worship that hamper an all-out pursuit against them.
A four-hour ceasefire to evacuate residents trapped in the town was interrupted by gunfire on Sunday, leaving some 500-600 inside with dwindling supplies of food and water.
"There are places that we use as passageways to enemy territory-when we reach those areas, sometimes we see old people who are weak, can not move on their own, because of lack of food", he said.
The military earlier said Hapilon, a senior leader of the bandit Abu Sayyaf group, "has an outstanding warrant of arrest for kidnapping with ransom and serious illegal detention".
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the recovery of the funds debunked some claims that troops were involved in looting in the war-torn city. "Rebellion is no joking matter", said Duterte, who has declared martial law in Marawi and the Mindanao region. The Philippines government appeared to admit to the rising civilian toll, though they insisted everyone killed was the "fault" of the militants.