Philippine conflict: Duterte says Marawi is militant-free

(PHILIPPINE, LANKAPUVATH) –Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared the city of Marawi “liberated” from militants, even as fighting continues.
The army said it was battling up to 30 militants left in the city, who were holding about 20 hostages.

Marawi has been partly held by fighters linked to so-called Islamic State (IS) since an attack in May.

Troops have been trying to root them out in a conflict that has killed more than 1,000 people – mostly militants.

Mr Duterte made his announcement while addressing troops in Marawi on Tuesday, saying: “Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare Marawi liberated from the terrorists.”

Gunfire could be heard in the city just moments before he made that statement, according to reports.

A military spokesman described the president’s declaration as symbolic, but also as a signal to begin planning the reconstruction of Marawi, which has been largely destroyed by almost daily bombardment.

Separately, the military has said they were still conducting operations to flush out the remaining militants and rescue their hostages.

(BBC)

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