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70 Lanao cops 'unaccounted for' as Marawi battle rages

ABS-CBN NEWS | MANILA - Some 70 policemen from the Lanao provinces were "unaccounted for" since clashes broke out between the government forces and Islamic State (IS)-inspired terrorists in Marawi City last May, the region's top cop said Monday.

Soldiers fold a Philippine flag in front of a coffin of the soldiers who were killed during the government troops assault against the insurgents from the Maute group, who have seized large parts of the Marawi City, in Iligan Sunday. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters


"Hindi pa po na-account ang lahat pero patuloy po namin silang hinahanap. Hindi pa masabi ang bilang ngayon, pero noong huling count ay nasa 70 po, sa buong Lanao na po iyun," Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, police director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) told radio DZMM.

(We have not accounted for all of them, but we continue searching for then. We cannot say their exact number, but our last tally was at 70 for the whole Lanao.)

"Hindi nagre-report, hindi ma-account. Hindi naman sila necessarily nawala. Baka naipit lang sa kung saan," Sindac added.

(They have not be reporting and could not be accounted. They are not necessarily missing, but may have only been stranded somewhere.)

The official said it is was unlikely that the missing cops had been trapped in Marawi when extremists took over several vital installations and launched their siege on the home of 200,000 residents on May 23.

"Hindi namin dini-discount ang possibility, pero hindi naman po malaki ang chance na ganoon po," Sindac said.

Some cops, he said, may have also failed from reporting to their units due to closed roads.





Policemen have been providing support to soldiers helming the battle against hundreds of local and foreign fighters in Marawi.

As of Saturday, the number of security forces killed in the battle for Marawi stood at 58. The death toll for civilians was 20 and more than 100 had been killed overall.

At least 200 militants are holed up in a corner of the town. An estimated 500 to 1,000 civilians are trapped there, some being held as human shields, while others are hiding in their homes with no access to running water, electricity or food.

The military has said it is aiming to end the siege by Monday, the Philippines' independence day. -- With Reuters


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