Residents flee Marawi City amid clashes

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 24) — The rush to get out of Marawi amid clashes between government forces and the Maute group is causing massive traffic jams at the city's exit points.

Read: Defense chief: 3 gov't troops killed in Marawi clash

The national road to Iligan City, which is around 40 kilometers away from Marawi City, via Barangay Matampay is congested, as well as the national road to the so-called basak area of the 1st District of Lanao del Sur passing through Barangay Moncado Colony.

In addition, Marawi Interior Director Norhanie Marohombsar told CNN Philippines that Maute members are blocking roads leading to two designated evacuation centers in the city.

Mindanao State University College of Education Dean Montia Sarip told CNN Philippines on May 24 that the city was nearly deserted when she and her family left at 8 a.m.

 

"By the time we left the place, halos kaunti na lang ang natitirang mga tao doon," she said. "Kung titingnan mo yung mga movement ng tao, masabi mo na matindi na. Yung dating masayahin na lugar, ngayon nakasara lahat ng mga tindahan, mga bahay."

[Translation: By the time we left the place, very few people were still there. If you look at the people's movements, you can say that the sitatuation is bad. What was once a happy and bustling place is now full of closed-down shops and homes.]

She added that she saw military vehicles heading in the opposite direction on her way out of Marawi.

"Five-to-six na sasakyan ng military at may isang ambulance at saka may tatlong helicopter na papasok," Sarip said.

[Translation: There were five-to-six military vehicles, one ambulance and three helicopters going into the city.]

A local official said people have been leaving since the early morning of May 24.

"They have been evacuating to Iligan City as early as 6 a.m.," said Provincial Social Welfare Officer Hja Pangadapun. "DSWD preparing food packs and attending to emergency needs."

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a May 23 press briefing in Moscow, Russia — where President Rodrigo Duterte was on an official visit — that residents should stay in their homes until the military orders an evacuation.

Read: Duterte declares martial law in Mindanao

"We may require them to get out of their homes, but we will provide the evacuation facilities like transportation para makaalis sila kung magkaroon talaga ng house-to-house fighting diyan sa Marawi," he said.

[Translation: We may require them to get out of their homes, but we will provide the evacuation facilities like transportation so that they could leave if there is house-to-house fighting there in Marawi.]

Lorenzana said the crisis started on May 23, when the military and police attempted to serve an arrest warrant against former Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon while he was seeking medical attention in the city.

"They were met with gunfire from the group of Hapilon Isnilon," he said.

Lorenzana added that three government troops have been killed in the fighting, with the terrorists likewise setting fire to several properties.

Duterte declared martial law over the whole of Mindanao on May 23 in response to the crisis in Marawi, as well as conflicts in Zamboanga, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Central Mindanao.

Read: Duterte on martial law: 'I'd be harsh'

This is a developing story. Please refresh the page for updates.

Stringer Ayeesha Dicali contributed to this report.