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Marawi slowly becoming a ‘ghost town’

The city of Marawi is slowly becoming a ‘ghost town’ as thousands of residents have already deserted their beleaguered place from the time the dreaded Maute Group started to wreak havoc there.

Myrna Jo Henry, information officer of the Autonomous Region In Muslim Mindanao-Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team (ARMM-HEART), said 800 evacuees were staying at the provincial capitol of Lanao del Sur while more people have moved out of Marawi City.

“In the words of our vice governor (ARMM Vice Governor Haroun Alrashid Lucman Jr), Marawi City is like a ghost town.

If the description is ghost town, then probably thousands of people have already evacuated,” said Henry.

Most of the evacuees are reportedly heading towards Iligan City while some are reportedly heading towards Lanao del Sur towns.

The presence of the Maute Group was discovered on Tuesday and triggered an intense gun battle. But reports said a number of the bandits have already been holed up in Marawi City even before the clash.

Aside from the clashes, the Maute Group also burned some establishments which include the Ninoy Aquino College, Dansalan College, the Marawi City Jail, and the Ma. Auxilladora Parish Church.

Sources said the presence of the Maute Group was monitored in at least 11 of the total 96 barangays in Marawi namely; Barangays Bangon, Saber, Tuca, Banggolo, Naga, Monkado Colony, Caloocan, Marinaut, Mapandi, Matampay, and Basak Malutlot.

Four people, including a priest, are reportedly being held hostage by the group.

Four policemen were already reported to have been killed while two members of the Special Action Force were wounded.

Earlier, the military urged the people to refrain from posting information on social media that would tend to exacerbate the situation. Armed Forces of the Philippines-Public Affairs Office (AFP-PAO) chief Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo asked those in Marawi to stop posting photos and videos on the movements of government troops and on terrorist propaganda circulating through social media. (Aaron Recuenco)