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Philippine troops evict Muslim rebel raiders from village

Manila: A hostage drama that unfolded at a primary school in the southern Philippines on Wednesday has been resolved, a military spokesman said, and the Islamist militants who had held people captive had withdrawn with no reports of casualties. The attackers apparently were withdrawing, Padilla said.”They’ve withdrawn from the area, they’re no longer there”.Padilla, however, said an investigation was underway to determine whether five civilians had been taken away by the militants.Philippine aircraft and troops launched a renewed push against the militants in Marawi City on Tuesday and a military spokesman said the aim was to clear the area by the weekend Eid festival, although there was no deadline.Reuters reports that several students are being held hostage, but the mayor was unable to confirm that earlier, and stated that the gunmen attacked the school before class was scheduled to start.Around 300 armed men, including members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), stormed a school in Pigcawayan town in Mindanao.Padilla said the incident at Pigcawayan was not related to the fighting in Marawi.Lt. Col. Emmanuel Garcia, commander of the Armed Forces’ 4th Civil Relations Group, said 225 Maute armed group members, 59 security personnel and 26 civilians have been killed since the outbreak of hostilities on May 23; 1,629 civilians were also rescued by troops, local government units and civil society organizations.Last month, about 500 bandits laid siege on Marawi, a mosque-dotted center of the Islamic faith in Mindanao, after a failed attempt by government forces to capture a top terrorist.”They were taking advantage of the situation that we have a very lightly defended outpost and that they think our forces are elsewhere in the province”, Padilla said.Military forces were deployed and engaged in a gun battle with the militants.Mr Duterte has said politicians, including some linked to the illegal drug trade, may have covertly backed the militants, who stockpiled arms and supplies before launching their audacious plot in Marawi.Pigcawayan is around 200 kilometers away from Marawi City, the battleground of government forces and terrorists for nearly a month.