From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14): AFP will not bomb mosques in Marawi
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday assured that it has no plans to bomb mosques being used by ISIS-inspired terrorists as strongholds in Marawi City.
The assurance was made by AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Resituto Padilla during the Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacañang, clarifying earlier reports that the military may bomb these areas to flush out the remaining terrorists who continue to hold out particularly in areas of worship.
In a Tuesday press briefing, a military spokesperson in Marawi said that among the problems being encountered by security forces is the continued use of mosques by the terrorists as safe havens and as defensible areas where they can stash arms or launch armed activities.
Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesperson of Joint Task Force Marawi, said that the sacredness of the area is decreasing due to these activities and the military may deal with those forces inside through airstrikes.
“I would like to clarify that the Armed Forces will not bomb the mosques in the area,” Padilla said.
He then read the official statement coming from AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año assuring the Muslim community of the military establishment’s respect to their places of worship.
“We categorically state that we have not bombed and will not bomb mosque in Marawi. The Armed Forces leadership is firm in its commitment to use other options that would flush out this Maute/Daesh-inspired group from these places of worship that they have converted into machine gun and sniper nest, defensive position, and arsenals for their war activities,” the AFP statement said.
“The AFP assures our Muslim brothers and Islamic faithful that it will not go down to the level of these terrorists who desecrate places of worship to lure government security forces into responding to their violent activities in a similar manner.”
“We are confident that through other options available to the Armed Forces, we will be able to retake the remaining portion of Marawi occupied by these terrorists, neutralize the remaining members who continue to hold out and begin the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the city," the statement said.
In the meantime, Padilla said that after 22 days of fighting, only four out of 96 barangays remain as areas of resistance in Marawi.
However, he said that the process of liberating the rest of Marawi City might take some more time.
“In an urban terrain where civilians are still currently trapped and may possibly be used as human shields or may be hit by crossfire, troops have to be very careful. We have to be very careful, we have to very judicious, we have to be very deliberate so as to avoid hitting innocent lives,” Padilla said.
He said that the AFP will have to take care of the remaining areas of concern in a very painstaking manner in consideration of lives still trapped in the area.
“Opportunities of this nature are things that we are working on so that anyone else trapped in area can make it through safe refuge and save their lives. So if it needs be, if it takes a little more time then so be it, for as long those lives are safe,” Padilla said.