10/18/2017, 09.52
PHILIPPINES
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Marawi liberated after five months of clashes

The Islamist occupation lasted 148 days. More than 1,000 people killed, mostly rebels. Marawi's operations cost 5 billion pesos (about 95 million euros). Fears of terrorist infiltrations in Mindanao Island.

Marawi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced today that the southern city of Marawi has been freed from Islamist militants who besieged it for five months.

Military leaders say that 20-30 fighters have not yet surrendered and still hold about 20 hostages. "Ladies and gentlemen, I declare that the city of Marawi is freed from the influence of terrorists. This marks the beginning of rehabilitation, "Duterte said during a speech to the troops, held the day after the killing of terrorist group leaders.

Isnilon Hapilon, sought after by the United States and the "emir" of the Islamic State (IS) for Southeast Asia, and Omarkhayam Maute, were killed yesterday during a targeted operation. Their bodies have been recovered and identified, the authorities said.

The 148-day Islamic occupation is the worst security crisis for the Philippines in recent years and raises the fear that with its mountains, jungles, and confines, the island of Mindanao can become a magnet for IS combatants fleeing from Iraq and Syria.

More than 1,000 people, mainly rebels, were killed during the battle while the heart of the city, which once accommodated 200,000 people, was razed to the ground by Philippine air raids. There are about 400,000 displaced, from the city and the neighboring areas. Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, according to whom Marawi's operations cost 5 billion pesos (about 95 million euros), said reconstruction could begin in January.

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