I was in Marawi City last May 23, 2017. My task that day was to get some reports from the police station needed for my work. It was around 1:30 in the afternoon when we heard the gun shots. Actually, these sounds are not new to me. In Marawi City, it is normal for locals to hear gun shots, for us it is celebratory thing and we do it in meaningful events. But that day, I never thought that anything worse can happen and God forbid I’m in the police station which was a huge target. I’m 300 meters away from the first encounter! Bombs and grenades were literally falling in front of us. Crazy thoughts got into my head and I felt emotions I’ve never felt before. I asked myself a couple of times why I’m there, when I’m supposed to be in another city working on something else. It occurred to me that it might be the end. I prayed, we all prayed. I’m so worried for my other colleagues who are Christians. They have families who are waiting for them too. I’m afraid and I’m sure their fear is twice as much! If we don’t get out of the city, they will be forced to recite the Shahada in checkpoints and if they can’t they will be killed. We were stuck there for 2 hours until the army found us another way to get out of the city. Right after we got out, the city was locked down. My family is still there. They endured the 11 hours exodus from Marawi to Iligan City which usually takes only 2 hours.

- Qapwa

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