MANILA - (2nd UPDATE) Iligan City was temporarily placed under lockdown amid reports that Maute rebels disguised as civilians fleeing skirmishes between state troops and rebel forces in the neighboring city of Marawi.
Iligan Mayor Celso Regencia said authorities temporarily implemented a lockdown from 12:00 midnight to 3:00 am Monday due to a military operation.
"For the purpose of that operation.. na nung oras na yun 12:00 up to 3:00 in the morning.. walang pwedeng papasok at walang pwedeng papalabasin para naman kung merong operation," said Regencia.
Regencia added another lockdown in Iligan City, located 30 kilometers from Marawi, may be implemented when necessary.
In a separate interview Monday, a military official said authorities decided on a lockdown to ensure the city's security.
"Nagkaroon po ng koordinasyon sa security forces na i-lockdown po muna namin ang Iligan City. Ang ibig sabihin po iyung mga pumapasok sa Iligan City, kung hindi man sila taga-Iligan City pinapabalik po kung saan man sila galing," Col. Alex Aduca, chief of the Army's 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, said in a phone interview with radio DZMM.
"Mayroon na po tayong reports na some of their comrade, itong mga armed groups na ito, ay nakikipag-blend sa mga evacuees at sumasama sila, lalong-lalo na ang kanilang mga wounded," he added.
(We have reports that some comrades of these armed groups, especially those injured by the fighting, have blended with evacuees)
"Mayroon po tayong mga na-apprehend at ipinasa po natin sa ating mga pulis para i-process po sila na 'pag mayroon silang involvement dini-detain po ng ating kapulisan."
(We have apprehended some of them. They will be detained if their alleged involvement in the Marawi siege is proven.)
Under the lockdown, Aduca said evacuees are denied entry to Iligan and instead sent to "consolidation and processing areas" in Matungao and Tagoloan towns, where they will be given basic services.
Aduca also mentioned that the curfew in Iligan City 12 has been expanded, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m, a claim later clarified by Regencia.
Some 100 people have been killed in Marawi City since fighting erupted between government forces and Maute extremists last week. President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday placed Mindanao under martial law.
The fighting has also forced some 13,600 individuals to seek shelter in evacuation centers and another 42,100 persons to flee to nearby towns.