President says civilians responsible for seeking cover, fleeing.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday ordered state forces to destroy Daesh-linked terrorists who are using dozens of civilians as human shields as military operations in Marawi enters a fifth week.
Duterte told troops not to be concerned if they kill civilians and that it was the responsibility of civilians to seek cover or flee.
He also told troops to keep engaging the Maute group although civilians are still trapped in the war zone, as he assured forces not to worry about potential charges that could be filed against them and that he would work to keep them out of prison for accidental deaths.
"We will face charges, sometimes massacre,” he said in a televised address in delivered in a mix of Tagalog and English. “You know a bullet hits through and through, one squeeze of the [rifile] it bursts out about three, four. Keep on pressing it.
"Those accidents are not intentional,” according to Duterte. “Do not hesitate to kill just because there are civilians there. It is the duty of the civilians to flee or seek cover. Because if it's war, it's really war. That’s why I said, ‘I grieve.’”
Duterte also ordered the military and police to shoot those who carry firearms inside Marawi, stressing that terrorist like Daesh have no redeeming factor.
Terrorists have to be dealt with in like ferocity but not brutality, he said. "We do not decapitate. We do not hang people. All we need is one shot and if he goes down, that’s it."
Duterte declared martial law on the island of Mindanao after hundreds of Daesh-inspired Maute group backed by Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf group laid siege to Marawi in late May.
To date, fighting has claimed 27 civilian lives, 299 militants and 71 government forces, including soldiers and policemen.
Approximately 500 civilians are still trapped in Marawi and more than 246,000 residents have been displaced.