MARAWI (AP) – Troops found the bodies of 16 civilians in the streets as they fought Sunday to drive out militants linked to the Islamic State who have occupied parts of a southern city. The overall death toll was 92.
The dead civilians included a group of four men, three women, and a child who were found near a road close to the Mindanao State University in Marawi, said military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.
Eight other men were found gunned down and thrown in a shallow ravine early Sunday in Marawi’s Emi village, said police officer Jamail Mangadang. A paper sign attached to one of the men indicated the victims “betrayed their faith,” he said.
Padilla said 61 militants have been killed together with 11 soldiers and four police since Tuesday, when a failed raid to capture one of Asia’s top militants triggered an attack on the city.
Troops were pressing their assaults on the militants Sunday, he said.
“We’re also focusing on house-to-house clearing of areas and rescuing trapped residents,” Padilla said. Troops rescued about 100 trapped civilians from their homes Saturday, he said.
A provincial official, Zia Alonto Adiong, said more than 2,200 civilian stranded in their homes by street fighting have been sending cellphone messages asking to be rescued and brought to evacuation centers. They were also reporting widespread damage in the city of 200,000 people.
The violence prompted President Duterte on Tuesday to declare 60 days of Martial Law in Mindanao, where a Muslim separatist rebellion has raged for decades. But the recent violence has raised fears that extremism could be growing as smaller militant groups unify and align themselves with the Islamic State.
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