Photo Essays | Security | Southeast Asia

Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

Glimpses of the Philippines’ offensive against militants in Marawi City.

By Jeoffrey Maitem for
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

Soldier heading to the battleground in Marawi City.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. says Philippine troops are now on the offensive and assured they will try their best to clear the city as soon as possible.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

Troops prepare hours before they will assault militants from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Groups, which are both linked to Islamic State.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

In this pictures, taken May 25, 2017, elite troops try to penetrate the position of their enemies. The military says their primary concern is how to facilitate the passage of trapped civilians while advancing the troops’ position.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

Soldiers take cover as they carry out clearing operations on May 25 in downtown Marawi City.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

A soldier runs toward his comrades at the height of the May 25 air and ground assault against ISIS-inspired militants in Marawi City.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

Residents evacuate Marawi City on May 26. Ongoing clashes between government security forces and ISIS-linked militants forced the massive exodus of terrified residents in the city.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

Soldiers return to base after a day-long operation.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

Policemen inspect vehicles coming in and out of Cagayan de Oro City.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

Policemen inspect vehicles coming in and out of Cagayan de Oro City.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

Affected people stay at an evacuation center just outside a military camp.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

Residents staying near the military camp wait for relief assistance from the government in this photo taken May 26, 2017.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

Soldiers prepare to go to battle on May 25. Ongoing fighting between government security forces and ISIS-linked militants forced a massive exodus from Marawi City.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

Soldiers patrol as they look for militants along the highway in Marawi City.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

Filipino Muslim woman walk along the highway going out of Marawi City. For fear of their safety, civilians are evacuating Marawi City.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

Filipino Muslim women wait for a passenger vehicle that will take them to nearby city of Iligan.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem
Martial Law Comes to Mindanao

In this picture taken on May 26, black smoke rises from a burning establishment in downtown Marawi City, where fighting is ongoing between soldiers and the Maute and Abu Sayyaf terror groups.

Credit: Jeoffrey Maitem

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in the southern Philippines in response to a burst of militant activity. Islamic State-linked militants had taken full control of Marawi City in Mindanao.

The military reported that 13 soldiers, two policemen, and 41 militants had been killed so far since the battle to retake Marawi City from the militants started on May 22. Around 45 soldiers were also wounded.

The military has also been conducting air strikes as part of the operation, although officers said they did not use fighter jets in flushing out gunmen linked to the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Groups.

“We used only precision-guided rockets. It will inflict maximum impact to the enemies while minimizing any collateral,” according to local military spokesperson Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera.

Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Resituto Padilla said foreign fighters were believed to be among the militants trying to escape from Marawi, a city of 200,000.

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The fighting was triggered when the military received reports that Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who is listed on the FBI’s list of most-wanted terrorists with a $5 million bounty on his head, had been spotted in Marawi this week.

Government forces moved to arrest him, but were overwhelmed by about 100 fighters armed with high-powered weapons, officials said.

As the fighting continued, civilians fled from their homes, fearing for their lives and safety.

Jeoffrey Maitem is a photographer and journalist based in Mindanao.