IN PHOTOS: 148 days of war in Marawi City

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IN PHOTOS: 148 days of war in Marawi City


The Islamic city of Marawi was a beacon of peace and prosperity in Mindanao, untouched by strife until the afternoon of May 23, 2017

MANILA, Philippines – It was just one sentence, but it rang the words the nation had long wanted to hear for the last 148 days.

Standing on a stage which had posts and walls pockmarked with bullet holes, President Rodrigo Duterte announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare Marawi City liberated from the terrorist influence that marks the beginning of rehabilitation.”

The audience of mostly soldiers roared in approval and applauded, unmindful of the rains which started pouring just before Duterte gave his historic declaration Tuesday, October 17. Millions of Filipino have long looked forward to this proclamation, but for these men at the warfront, it was doubly significant. Those words meant that the soldiers have accomplished their mission. The country owes them for their bravery.

Probably the best news about the Marawi war broke out a day earlier, on Monday morning, October 16, when Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed in an impromptu media briefing the killings of Abu Sayyaf subleader Isnilon Hapilon and Maute Group leader Omar Maute. Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año described the death of the two terrorist leaders “as the straw that broke the camel’s back” and added that the end of the war was at hand.

All told, as of October 16, the military said 163 soldiers and policemen have been killed in action, 60 government forces missing, 47 civilians dead, and 847 terrorists (including 12 foreigners) killed. Over 1,400 soldiers and policemen were wounded. But the biggest number of those affected by the bitter war were the thousands of residents who fled Marawi and are now in various evacuation centers. Before the fighting broke out, government records showed Marawi had a population of over 200,000.

See highlights of the 5-month long siege through lens of photographers who were at the warfront. 


INFERNO. As the sun set on the first day of the siege, the terrorists identified with the Maute Group who occupied Marawi City torched buildings in the city center. Photo from @du_kartoffel
BAKWIT. When they realized this was not going to be an overnight battle, residents of Marawi City started evacuating by the thousands, heading for nearby Iligan City or Cagayan de Oro City on May 24, 2017. Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP
EERIE SILENCE. This used to be a busy street corner; now, not even a shadow in sight after Marawi City residents fled because of the fighting. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler
CHECKPOINT MAUTE. In the early days of the fighting the Maute terror group were brazen enough to post checkpoints in areas they held in Marawi City. Screengrab from Amaq
CLEARING. Army scout rangers, unused to urban warfare,  conduct clearing operations to flush out members of the Maute Group inside buildings recaptured by government troops. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler
MARTIAL LAW.  When martial law was declared over the whole island of Mindanao, everyone entering the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro had to undergo scrutiny at checkpoints. Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP
AIR STRIKES. Probably among the game-changers of the war in Marawi City were the air strikes of the Philippine Air Force. Here, smokes billows from the continuous pounding of the terrorist positions. Photo by Ferdinand Cabrera/AFP
HEROES. The coffins of the first batch of soldiers and policemen killed in action in Marawi City arrive at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City. Malacanang Photo
HORROR. Bones and tattered clothes are scattered in Banggolo, Marawi, on June 28, 2017, as fierce gun battles mark the 6th week of the war. Photo from Zia Alonto Adiong
BRIDGES TOO FAR. A screenshot of a drone video shows key bridges in Marawi City. Photo by the Provincial Crisis Management Committee
BEGINNING OF THE END.  Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año (left) and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana show to media photos of slain terror leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon Monday morning, October 16, 2017. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler
DUYAN KA NG MAGITING. President Rodrigo Duterte and other government officials salute as the Philippine national anthem is played for the first time in 'liberated' Marawi City on October 17, 2017.  Photo by Malacañang

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