Army declares 'humanitarian' ceasefire in Marawi

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 04 2017 09:36 AM | Updated as of Jun 04 2017 03:57 PM

Smoke billowing from a burning building is seen as government troops continue their assault on insurgents from the Maute group, who have taken over large parts of Marawi City, Friday. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

MANILA - (UPDATED) The military on Sunday declared a 4-hour "humanitarian ceasefire" in the besieged city of Marawi, where they have battled Islamist militants since last week.

"Inaprubahan po ng ating chief of staff, si General Eduardo Año, ang pagkakaroon ng tinatawag na humanitarian pause para magbigay-daan sa pagbibigay ng tulong at pag-recover sa sinumang nasugatan at anumang labing andiyan, at doon sa mga taong nagtatawag ng tulong," Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla.

(AFP chief of staff General Eduardo Año has approved a so-called humanitarian pause to give way to relief distribution, the recovery of the wounded and slain, and the rescue of trapped civilians.)

The ceasefire will last from 8 a.m. to 12 noon.

"Para ngayong umaga lang po ito. May request na po para sa mas matagalang aabutin ng ilang araw, pero hindi po natin maaaring payagan iyan dahil may iina-address pa po tayong mga threat d'yan sa loob," Padilla said.

(This will only last until this morning. There are requests for the cease fire to be extended for several days, but we cannot do that because we are still addressing several threats.)

On May 23, four days before the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, Maute and Abu Sayyaf gunmen attacked Marawi after state forces attempted to capture terror leader Isnilon Hapilon.

The fighting has killed 120 militants, 38 government forces and 20 civilians, according to government records as of Saturday.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the conflict would be over soon but he gave no operational plans. He said there were 250 militants still in the town, far more than the 20-30 cited by the military on Friday.

Officials have said militants from as far away as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Chechnya and Morocco joined the battle, raising concerns that the Islamic State is seeking to establish a regional foothold there. -- With Reuters; Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News