Marawi crisis hits 300 death toll mark

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(CNN Philippines, June 18) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines has confirmed over 300 casualties in the 28th day of the crisis in Marawi City.

In a report issued by Joint Task Force Marawi Saturday, the body count included 242 terrorists, 3 policemen, and 56 military personnel killed in action. There are also 26 civilians confirmed killed by terrorists.

"All the rest that we have not accounted for as civilians, we are categorizing as members of the enemy because they have been found beside weapons and inside buildings that have been used havens by many of the enemies," AFP Spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said in an interview with CNN Philippines Sunday.

Padilla said the civilian death toll is rising because the military has just began recovering bodies in four inaccessible barangays out of 96 in the city. Padilla deemed the barangays as "problematic" due to the presence of armed elements from local terror group Maute-ISIS.

"The battlefield has remained inaccessible for many of our local government partners and our own soldiers who are helping retrieve and managing the dead," Padilla said.

The military also reported that terrorists have increasingly used   civilians as human shields, as well as mosques as safe havens for the rebel groups.

He added that the number of enemies' bodies recovered are also expected to rise as soon as government troops will be able to enter the barangays and take control of buildings reportedly controlled by Maute-ISIS members.

"Our forces have always been on the alert nationwide. And focus in Marawi in Mindanao itself. we have enough forces there to safeguard units, vital installations, and our cities and other municipalities from any kinds of attacks," Padilla said.

But Padilla clarified that the rescue and retrieval missions cannot be rushed, because it will put civilian and military lives at risk.

"The problem of doing it door to door and doing it judiciously and slowly remains. We cannot rush this without putting our men at risk as well as many other civilians who may still remain trapped inside their barangays," he said.

According to the report, 1,636 civilians have been rescued and 243 firearms from terror groups have been recovered.

"This speaks of the degraded capacity, capability of the enemy as we go on," Padilla claimed.

The Marawi crisis has led the displacement of more than 300,000 residents evacuating in neighboring cities, including Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.

President Rodrigo Duterte said Saturday martial law in Mindanao will continue until the shootings in the region stop.

Martial law implementor Eduardo Año, also the AFP's Chief-of-Staff, said the AFP is prepared to take on talks about rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi structures once the city is cleared of rebels.

CNN Philippines' Correspondent David Santos and Gerg Cahiles contributed to this report.