By Hader Glang
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines
Around 85,000 people have been forced to leave their homes as an ongoing military operation against Daesh-linked terrorists in Marawi City entered seventh day.
The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) government’s crisis management center recorded a total of 84,460 internally displaced persons.
They are either staying at designated evacuation centers or at their relative’s houses in nearby towns, Humanitarian and Emergency Action and Response Team’s focal person Myrna Jo Henry told Anadolu Agency.
He said there are at least 3,717 stranded individuals in the city, while 59 persons have gone missing.
According to ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, the incursion of the local terror group Maute and some elements of the Abu Sayyaf into Marawi has inflicted immense sufferings to residents in the city.
Marawi is one of the only two cities in the ARMM. It is situated in the province of Lanao del Sur and has a population of more than 200,000 based on the 2015 census -- a vast majority of them are Muslims.
Hataman said the terror and displacement have made the observance of Ramadan unusually somber and tough for the city’s vast Muslim population.
Zia Alonto Adiong, a politician coordinating efforts to evacuate civilians, said several civilians who remain in Marawi despite the clashes were without food and wanted the military to stop air strikes.
The military on Monday said seven straight days of fighting between government troops and Daesh-linked terrorists in Marawi City had already killed 100 people.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Col. Edgar Arevalo said at a news conference that the fighting had also left dozens of soldiers and policemen wounded.
"Among the fatalities were 61 Maute extremists, 20 government troops and 19 civilians," Arevalo told reporters.
Heavy clashes erupted in Marawi last Tuesday after a botched mission to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon. This prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to put the entire island of Mindanao under martial law.