IEDs preventing safe return of civilians in Marawi City – AFP

MANILA-- The presence of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and unexploded ordnances in Marawi City are the reasons why the military is not yet allowing displaced families to return home.

This was bared by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Restituto Padilla during the "Bangon Marawi" forum held Friday at Conrad Grand Hotel in Pasay City.

He noted that allowing civilians to return to their homes while these explosive items, if allowed to remain armed and inert in the ground, can cause greater problems in the future as it can explode and cause numerous casualties or even death.

"The thousands of IEDs that have been laid out as traps (in many) areas of the city (could cause casualties if civilians are allowed to return in Marawi now.) The challenges (there) are similar to those that was faced (by) many citizens from China, Laos, Cambodia after the wars because mines, unexploded ordnance and other war materials (remain uncollected and armed) in the ground," Padilla stressed.

He added that operations to disarm these deadly devices is slowing down the military advance in Marawi City as troops have to comb every inch and corner of areas formerly occupied by the Maute Group terrorists to ensure that none will be left behind to injure or kill returning residents.

As of this posting, Padilla said Maute Group remnants are just holed up in two barangays, measuring less than a square kilometer, and that they are working with the local government unit to account for the 300 citizens who still remain missing.

"We don't know how many are still alive and the number who are in the hands of the enemy but we can estimate that about 80-100 persons are still on the hands of terrorists," he said.

Padilla also said every consideration is being done by the AFP to ensure that these civilians are rescued unharmed.

As of Aug. 3, the number of rebels killed are 522, while the number of civilians killed by terrorists are 45.

Government troops killed-in-action are placed at 119 with 1,724 civilians rescued so and 600 firearms were recovered.

Fighting in the area has been raging since May 23 when government forces made an attempt to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader and ISIS "emir" Isnilon Hapilon.

Source: Philippine News Agency