Marawi Evacuees Start Returning Home

The Islamic city of Marawi.

Lanao delSur, MINA – Displaced Maranaos started returning on Sunday to villages in Marawi City that they were forced to abandon on May 23.

Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong of the 24-seat Regional Assembly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) told The STAR on Sunday that authorities have allowed the return of evacuees to areas declared safe by security advisers, among them bomb disposal experts.

“Residents of Barangay Basak Malutlut started returning to their homes today, October 29,” said Adiong, spokesman of the Lanao del Sur provincial crisis management committee.

Marawi City is the political and administrative capital of Lanao del Sur, which has 39 towns.

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It was in Barangay Basak Malutlut were government forces and combined Maute and Abu Sayyaf gunmen first clashed on May 23, sparking a conflict that lasted until October 23.

“We are thankful to the office of Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra and all other agencies and cause-oriented groups helping return evacuees to Marawi City,” Adiong said.

Deactivating IEDs and collecting unexploded ordnance

The Western Mindanao Command and the Police Regional Office-ARMM have allowed the return of evacuees to areas already inspected by bomb disposal teams.

Bomb experts are still deactivating improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and collecting unexploded ordnance, such as mortar projectiles and artillery rounds, scattered in some still critical areas.

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“We cannot compromise the safety of the returning evacuees. We have to protect them from possible accidents,” Lt. General Carlito Galvez, Jr., commander of WestMinCom, told The STAR via mobile phone on Sunday. (T/RS5/RS1)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)