10/02/2017, 12.18
PHILIPPINES
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Marawi, first Mass in St. Mary's Cathedral since end of siege

by Santosh Digal

Terrorist militants Maute and Abu Sayyaf took possession of the cathedral on May 23. The building was liberated on August 28 by Manila troops. A total of 749 guerrillas have lost their lives during the conflict, 155 victims among Filipino security personnel. It will still take some time to put an end to the siege of Marawi. The last battlefield as big as two football fields.

Marawi (AsiaNews) - St. Mary's Cathedral in Marawi (Mindanao Island) hosted its first Mass yesterday four months from the onset of the violence of groups linked to the Islamic State on the feast day of St. Teresa of Lisieux , patron of the Philippine army.

Maute and Abu Sayyaf  terrorist militants took the cathedral last May 23, at the beginning of clashes that devastated the capital of the province of Lanao del Sur, since then under martial law.

The building, liberated on August 28 by the Philippine Armed Forces, is severely damaged by the desecration of terrorists who had also published a video. The images aroused the indignation and condemnation of local Muslim leaders.

During the mass celebrated yesterday, gunfire and the sounds of the violence still in progress, could be heard while morning light came into the church through the holes in the bullet damaged walls (see photo).

A total of 749 guerrillas lost their lives during the counter-offensive of government troops. There are 155 victims among Filipino security personnel. Although defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana had stated that the operations would be completed on October 1, the army declares that it will still take time to put an end to the siege of Marawi.

Gen. Carlito Galvez, head of the Mindanao West Command (Wesmincom), says there are still 46 hostages in the hands of the terrorists. The troops are engaged in hand to hand combat with militants, in an area as large as two football pitches.

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