Photos: A painful homecoming to Philippines’ battle-scarred Marawi

On Sunday some 7,000 residents of Marawi, Philippines returned to their tattered homes as part of the first wave allowed back in to since the military’s offensive against jihadists loyal to the Islamic State ended five months ago. Tearful residents dug charred furniture and broken toys from the ruins, which still conceals unexploded bombs dropped during the battles that broke out in May 2017. Over the course of the next month groups of residents will be allowed to return for up to three days each, to view their old homes and salvage what they can before rebuilding starts.

UPDATED ON APR 03, 2018 09:32 AM IST 9 Photos
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After fleeing for their lives nearly a year ago, some residents of the ravaged Philippine city of Marawi were allowed back Sunday for the first time -- to dig through rubble they once called homes. Swathes of the southern city were destroyed in five months of house-to-house fighting between troops and jihadists loyal to the Islamic State group that killed nearly 1,200. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

After fleeing for their lives nearly a year ago, some residents of the ravaged Philippine city of Marawi were allowed back Sunday for the first time -- to dig through rubble they once called homes. Swathes of the southern city were destroyed in five months of house-to-house fighting between troops and jihadists loyal to the Islamic State group that killed nearly 1,200. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

UPDATED ON APR 03, 2018 09:32 AM IST
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The stunned and tearful residents, who once lived in the main battle zone, had not been allowed home until now due to fears of unexploded bombs still buried in the ruins. Authorities finally relented as rebuilding plans are moving forward, which will likely result in many of the worst-hit areas being razed. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

The stunned and tearful residents, who once lived in the main battle zone, had not been allowed home until now due to fears of unexploded bombs still buried in the ruins. Authorities finally relented as rebuilding plans are moving forward, which will likely result in many of the worst-hit areas being razed. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

UPDATED ON APR 03, 2018 09:32 AM IST
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“I cried in anger, pain,” Samsida Mangcol, 44, told AFP of the moment she saw what was left of her bridal boutique, which now has “I love ISIS” spray-painted across one its walls. “I used to rent out clothes but now I have become a beggar, asking my relatives for things to eat and wear,” the mother-of-three said as she caressed a ruined wedding gown. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

“I cried in anger, pain,” Samsida Mangcol, 44, told AFP of the moment she saw what was left of her bridal boutique, which now has “I love ISIS” spray-painted across one its walls. “I used to rent out clothes but now I have become a beggar, asking my relatives for things to eat and wear,” the mother-of-three said as she caressed a ruined wedding gown. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

UPDATED ON APR 03, 2018 09:32 AM IST
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Marawi on Mindanao island, the principal Islamic city in the mainly Catholic Philippines, was besieged by hundreds of local and foreign gunmen waving black IS flags who attacked it in what authorities said was an attempt to establish a Southeast Asian base. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

Marawi on Mindanao island, the principal Islamic city in the mainly Catholic Philippines, was besieged by hundreds of local and foreign gunmen waving black IS flags who attacked it in what authorities said was an attempt to establish a Southeast Asian base. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

UPDATED ON APR 03, 2018 09:32 AM IST
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Many of the city’s 200,000 residents fled their homes in a rush for safety, including more than 10,000 people from the so-called “ground zero”. They have since been living in evacuation centres or with relatives in other towns. Months after the fighting ended, residents still visited at their own risk. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

Many of the city’s 200,000 residents fled their homes in a rush for safety, including more than 10,000 people from the so-called “ground zero”. They have since been living in evacuation centres or with relatives in other towns. Months after the fighting ended, residents still visited at their own risk. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

UPDATED ON APR 03, 2018 09:32 AM IST
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Sunday’s group of some 7,000 resident walked forlornly through streets littered with rubble, twisted metal and the skeletons of bullet-riddled cars. The conflict zone has 53 unexploded bombs from military airstrikes weighing as much as 226 kilogrammes as well as explosives left behind by the militants, according to Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of the military task force in Marawi. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

Sunday’s group of some 7,000 resident walked forlornly through streets littered with rubble, twisted metal and the skeletons of bullet-riddled cars. The conflict zone has 53 unexploded bombs from military airstrikes weighing as much as 226 kilogrammes as well as explosives left behind by the militants, according to Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of the military task force in Marawi. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

UPDATED ON APR 03, 2018 09:32 AM IST
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Thousands of residents wait to pass through a military check point to visit their destroyed houses at the main battle area in Marawi City. Over the course of the next month other groups of residents will be allowed to return for up to three days each, to view their old homes and salvage what they can before rebuilding starts. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

Thousands of residents wait to pass through a military check point to visit their destroyed houses at the main battle area in Marawi City. Over the course of the next month other groups of residents will be allowed to return for up to three days each, to view their old homes and salvage what they can before rebuilding starts. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

UPDATED ON APR 03, 2018 09:32 AM IST
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The battle, which ended in October, was the biggest security crisis under firebrand President Rodrigo Duterte. The destruction was similar to that inflicted on Aleppo or Mosul, military and local officials say. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

The battle, which ended in October, was the biggest security crisis under firebrand President Rodrigo Duterte. The destruction was similar to that inflicted on Aleppo or Mosul, military and local officials say. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

UPDATED ON APR 03, 2018 09:32 AM IST
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The threat posed by those bombs as well as memories of their flight, were uppermost in the minds of Sunday’s visitors. “We left because we thought the soldiers were about to respond and there would be a gunfight,” said Mangcol, the bridal shop owner, of her escape. “A bullet does not recognise a civilian from a terrorist.” (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

The threat posed by those bombs as well as memories of their flight, were uppermost in the minds of Sunday’s visitors. “We left because we thought the soldiers were about to respond and there would be a gunfight,” said Mangcol, the bridal shop owner, of her escape. “A bullet does not recognise a civilian from a terrorist.” (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

UPDATED ON APR 03, 2018 09:32 AM IST

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