Philippines: Marawi Residents Return to Damaged Homes, Neighborhoods

Jeoffrey Maitem and Froilan Gallardo
2017.11.06
Marawi, Philippines
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A Marawi resident walks through the bombed-out portion of the rented apartment of Abu Sayyaf leader and local Islamic State chief Isnilon Hapilon, who was killed during the five-month battle, Oct. 26, 2017. (Froilan Gallardo/BenarNews)

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Bombs and artillery did not spare this mosque in the village of Lumbac Madaya, Marawi, Oct. 26, 2017. (Froilan Gallardo/BenarNews)

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A man shows empty shells he recovered from inside his house in Basak Malutlut, a village where fighting erupted in Marawi, Oct. 30, 2017. (Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews)

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A boy peers from a broken window as he inspects his home in a section of Marawi, Oct. 30, 2017. (Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews)

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Non-government organization members install water purifiers for residents who returned to their homes in the village of Malutlut, Marawi, Oct. 26, 2017. (Froilan Gallardo/BenarNews)

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Soldiers’ images are reflected in a puddle at the main battle area in Marawi, Oct. 17, 2017. (Froilan Gallardo/BenarNews)

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Residents walk in Basak Malutlut village in Marawi City, Oct. 30, 2017. (Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews)

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Marawi residents check lists for food supplies, after returning home following the five-month battle, Nov. 2, 2017. (Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews)

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A family eats in darkness after returning to their ruined home in Marawi, Oct. 30, 2017. (Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews)

Men, women and children are returning to the lakeshore city of Marawi in trickles to find their homes damaged after a five-month battle with Islamic State-backed militants officially declared over on Oct. 23.

The Philippine military has spray-painted “cleared” on buildings the militants had taken over but were eventually dislodged from during the fighting in the southern Philippine city. Still, close to 40 militants are holed up in the ruins of a section of the city, the army said.

Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla said there were “pockets of enemy presence” in Marawi, which remains a dangerous place even as civilians have been given the green light to check their homes. Some homes are off limits.

“The main battle area, where most of the very heavy fighting occurred in the last few weeks, still arbors a number of stragglers,” Padilla said.

“As you may have noted in the last few days, there have been a series of engagements that have occurred between our forces who continue to perform clearing operations,” he said, noting that a captured Indonesian militant had told interrogators that 39 militant fighters were still active in the area.

The clashes with the holdouts erupted on Nov. 2 as scout rangers were conducting clearing operations. They found improvised bombs left behind to slow down the militants’ pursuers.

“The process of clearing will continue. We will not stop until each building that they left is cleared of their presence and enemy fighters are flushed out,” he said.

Felipe Villamor in Manila contributed to this report.

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