Fighting reignites near Marawi mosque

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 25 2017 08:38 PM | Updated as of Aug 25 2017 11:13 PM

MANILA - Gunbattles erupted anew near the Bato Islamic Mosque in Marawi City Friday, a day after state troops retook the place of worship from Islamic State-linked terrorists. 

The fighting reportedly started past 6 p.m. 

The firefight was 100 meters away from the mosque, an ABS-CBN News source said.

The source added that the Maute group transferred to nearby buildings after state forces retook the mosque.

Terrorists used the Grand Mosque as one of their main hideouts after laying siege to Marawi City last May.

No other details about the fresh clash were available as of this posting. 

State troops had to craft a plan to retake the mosque, a vital part of the largely Islamic city, so that it would retain its structural integrity, Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said earlier Friday. 

"We did not conduct a frontal attack because we wanted to preserve the Grand Mosque. Hence, a very elaborate plan was prepared by our troops on the ground," he said. 

Padilla said government troops adopted an "envelopmental approach," wherein soldiers took control of facilities and structures around the mosque as they inched their way towards their enemies. 

The battle in Marawi City has been raging since May 23, when Islamic State-inspired militants captured parts of the once-vibrant Islamic city. It has left at least 770 dead, mostly terrorists.

The violent clashes prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place Mindanao under martial law until the end of the year, saying the local terrorists were aiming to establish an Islamic State province in the Philippines.

Duterte visited the conflict zone for the third time on Thursday, even trying his hand at a sniper rifle and firing towards the enemy's direction. 

The emergence of groups pledging allegiance to Islamic State has been considered the biggest security problem to face the year-old Duterte administration. 

The rise of pro-Islamic State groups in the country has also raised alarm in Washington and the Philippines’ neighbors in the region, which fear that the notorious terror group was seeking to establish a new front in Asia amid its successive losses in Iraq and Syria. --With reports from Jeff Hernaez, DZMM

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