Thursday, May 25, 2017

Current Mindanao Uprising

Marawi crisis, also known as Marawi clash and Battle of Marawi, is an ongoing armed conflict in Marawi, Lanao del Sur between Philippine government security forces and militants of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups that started on 23 May 2017.

The Philippine government claims that the clashes began when they launched an offensive in the city to capture Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf group, after receiving reports that Hapilon was in the city, possibly to meet with militants of the Maute group.  A deadly firefight erupted when Hapilon's forces opened fire at the combined Army and police teams and called for reinforcements from the Maute, an armed group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and who are believed to be responsible for the 2016 Davao City bombing, according to military spokesmen.

Maute Group militants attacked Camp Ranao and occupied several buildings in the city, including Marawi City Hall, the Mindanao State University, a hospital and the city jail. The group also occupied the main street and torched Saint Mary's Church, Ninoy Aquino School, and Dansalan College run by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).


The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stated that the fighting in Marawi was due to an operation conducted by the military in coordination with the Philippine National Police, contrary to earlier reports that the clash was initiated by the militant groups. Government security forces received reports that a group of Abu Sayyaf fighters led by Isnilon Hapilon were in Marawi to possibly meet with their Maute group counterparts. The US Department of Justice has listed Hapilon as among the world's most wanted terrorists with a reward of up to US$5 million for his capture.

Residents of Marawi reported the presence of an armed group within their locale and after the AFP verified the information, the military launched a "surgical operation."

Philippine Government Response

Following the clash, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao at 10:00 in the evening (UTC+8) of 23 May 2017. As per the 1987 Constitution, the state of martial law will initially last for 60 days. President Duterte also decided to shorten his diplomatic visit to Russia.

Vice President Leni Robredo called for unity as government troops continue to engage in a firefight against a local terrorist group in Marawi.

International Reaction

Malaysia began to tighten its border with the Philippines shortly after the President announced martial law. The country Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said they had “taken precautions, and are always beware of what is happening in neighbouring Philippines”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his condolences to the victims of the Marawi attacks as President Duterte cut short his state visit in Moscow. During their bilateral meeting at the Kremlin, Putin told Duterte that "my colleagues and myself definitely understand quite well that you do have to come back to return to your motherland" and expressed hope that the conflict "will be resolved as soon as possible and with minimal losses and casualties."

The British government warned its nationals to avoid traveling to western Mindanao, including Marawi where clashes are still ongoing between government troops and Maute group terrorists.

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