Evacuees being checked meticulously.
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While the AFP and the police did their job of forcing the terrorists to flee the scene, it is now the turn of the local authority to do their bit. Knowing that the security forces have routed the terrorists of the Islamic State, efforts are now on to arrest as many as possible.
Therefore, the residents are being exhorted by the provincial government of Lanao del Sur to help in the mopping up operations. Since the attackers have taken to their heels, the disoriented and defeated rebels are escaping in all directions.
Moreover, most of the Islamic State fighters are believed to be outsiders, most of them Arabs and other nationalities. Consequently, they will not be very familiar with the local countryside where they are likely to be hiding or fleeing.
The government of Lanao del Sur called upon residents to help the security forces in apprehending the stragglers who are on the run. The authorities called them citizen arrests and justified them under the law of the land. In addition, Zia Alonto Adiong the regional assemblyman addressed people on behalf of the provincial government.
He called on all capable persons to apprehend suspected terrorists and hand them over to the authorities. He informed that troops had captured a terrorist who was trying to pass off as a refugee escaping from Marawi.
But, during the process of ascertaining his identity, the officials smelled a rat. Even though the young man wasn’t carrying a weapon, the smell of gunpowder emanating from his fingers gave him away. They arrested him and handed him over the 20 year old to the army.
Adiong also announced that, with immediate effect, the local government had imposed night curfew in the province. The strict curfew would be effective from 8 PM to 5 AM. It will restrict all movement of all residents; Press corps and government officials not exempted, he said.
Moreover, media who wish to go to Iligan may seek prior permission of the military. The military will be the regulator for this curfew.
Meanwhile, the army had issued instructions that all residents arriving from Marawi side need to be dressed in white. They should also wear white armbands and display white flags on their vehicles prominently.
There were reports that Iligan City was in a state of lockdown by the police since a majority of evacuees from Marawi arrived via that city. But, the police command of Iligan issued a strong denial to those rumors.
Residents prepared to leave at short notice whenever the announcement of a deadline came. However, the police announced via their facebook page that they were conducting strict checking at checkpoints.
The announcement that came at 9 PM Sunday that movement was unhindered to and from the city of Iligan. The only restriction was that one should not have committed a crime.
Secondly, no one can carry the following:
• Explosives of any kind,
• Contraband articles,
• Firearms or
• Any other material of a disruptive nature
Col. Alex Aduca, chief of the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, informed that due to the difficulty in identifying culprits, a strict regimen is in place.
The main difficulty exists in apprehending Abu Sayyaf and IS operatives who move out with their relatives.
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Written for: Lars-Magnus Carlsson
Tuesday, 30 May 2017