A Filipino soldier carries a boy who was rescued from the fighting in Marawi. Romeo Ranoco / Reuters
A Filipino soldier carries a boy who was rescued from the fighting in Marawi. Romeo Ranoco / Reuters

At least 100 killed in Philippine battle against extremists as government vows to save hostages



MARAWI // Philippine troops have killed 89 militants during more than a week of urban battles but a final showdown is expected to be fierce as the gunmen protect their leaders and hold hostages, authorities said on Wednesday.

Attack helicopters fired rockets on Wednesday into parts of Marawi, a Muslim city in the south of the predominantly Catholic Philippines, that were still controlled by the militants fighting under the black flag of ISIL.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the entire southern region of Mindanao in response to the crisis, which he described as the start of a major campaign by ISIL to establish a foothold in the Philippines.

The amount of territory in the city that the remaining gunmen controlled had been cut to just 10 per cent, military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla said on Wednesday.

He said 960 civilians have been rescued, and about 1,000 residents remain trapped in the city. The dead include 89 militants, 19 civilians and 21 government forces, he said.

Another eight militants surrendered and Gen Padilla said they provided “very, very valuable intelligence” during questioning.

However, he warned of more intense battles ahead, with the military believing three of the militants’ main leaders were likely still in the city.

“That 10 per cent is most likely the area that is heavily guarded and defended by any armed men if they are protecting any individual of high value,” Gen Padilla said.

The militants are also holding an unknown number of civilians hostage, according to Gen Padilla. They initially took a priest and up to 14 other people hostage at the start of the crisis.

A video of the priest appeared on social media on Tuesday, in which he repeated the militants’ demands to withdraw and said his captors were holding 240 people hostage.

Gen Padilla said the number of people cited in the video as being held hostage could not be verified.

He insisted the release of the footage showed the militants were becoming increasingly desperate and said security forces would not back down.

“They are trapped, they are contained, they are in areas that they will never come up alive unless they surrender,” he said.

Another complication was the safety of about 2,000 residents who the local government said remained trapped in the militant-controlled areas.

The International Committee of the Red Cross called on Wednesday for a humanitarian ceasefire to save them.

“I think it’s horrific for the civilian people who are in there and we really hope that both sides can agree that the civilians should be given the opportunity to come out,” the deputy head of the ICRC’s Philippine delegation, Martin Thalmann, said in Marawi.

* Agence France-Presse and Associated Press

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Getting there
Flydubai flies direct from Dubai to Tbilisi from Dh1,025 return including taxes

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS

Estijaba – 8001717 –  number to call to request coronavirus testing

Ministry of Health and Prevention – 80011111

Dubai Health Authority – 800342 – The number to book a free video or voice consultation with a doctor or connect to a local health centre

Emirates airline – 600555555

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Ambulance – 998

Knowledge and Human Development Authority – 8005432 ext. 4 for Covid-19 queries

Milestones on the road to union

1970

October 26: Bahrain withdraws from a proposal to create a federation of nine with the seven Trucial States and Qatar. 

December: Ahmed Al Suwaidi visits New York to discuss potential UN membership.

1971

March 1:  Alex Douglas Hume, Conservative foreign secretary confirms that Britain will leave the Gulf and “strongly supports” the creation of a Union of Arab Emirates.

July 12: Historic meeting at which Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid make a binding agreement to create what will become the UAE.

July 18: It is announced that the UAE will be formed from six emirates, with a proposed constitution signed. RAK is not yet part of the agreement.

August 6:  The fifth anniversary of Sheikh Zayed becoming Ruler of Abu Dhabi, with official celebrations deferred until later in the year.

August 15: Bahrain becomes independent.

September 3: Qatar becomes independent.

November 23-25: Meeting with Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid and senior British officials to fix December 2 as date of creation of the UAE.

November 29:  At 5.30pm Iranian forces seize the Greater and Lesser Tunbs by force.

November 30: Despite  a power sharing agreement, Tehran takes full control of Abu Musa. 

November 31: UK officials visit all six participating Emirates to formally end the Trucial States treaties

December 2: 11am, Dubai. New Supreme Council formally elects Sheikh Zayed as President. Treaty of Friendship signed with the UK. 11.30am. Flag raising ceremony at Union House and Al Manhal Palace in Abu Dhabi witnessed by Sheikh Khalifa, then Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

December 6: Arab League formally admits the UAE. The first British Ambassador presents his credentials to Sheikh Zayed.

December 9: UAE joins the United Nations.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures