Australian journalist Adam Harvey was struck with a bullet to the neck Thursday while covering the fighting in the southern Philippine city of Marawi.
The Jakarta-based correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation had been interviewing children whose families have been displaced since ISIS-aligned militants laid siege to the city on May 23.
“We’d just taken all the safety gear off, because we were in what we thought was a very safe place in Marawi, in the civic center where the refugees are brought into, where the medical center is, where the press conferences are held,” he told the network. “But I guess it’s not safe.”
Harvey said he was opening the back door of a car to get food and water when he felt a pain in the side of his neck.
“I thought I’d been hit by a bit of shrapnel, and I started bleeding,” he recounted on the air. “It felt actually like I’d been … hit in the side of the neck with a cricket ball.”
The blood flow was enough to suggest he should go to the hospital.
He had an x-ray taken to get a better look, and when the medical staff showed him the image, Harvey asked with surprise, “Is there something in there?”
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“There’s a bullet in there,” someone told him.
“Holy [expletive],” said Harvey. “I can see a bullet in my neck. Jesus, that’s [expletive] scary.”
Indeed, the x-ray showed a perfectly intact bullet, lodged behind his jaw. Harvey never lost consciousness, and while he says his neck hurt, he had no idea he’d been shot. He said he was told to wear a neck brace as a precaution.
In a sign of just how dangerous Marawi has become, Harvey and his colleagues began hearing gunfire just outside the door of the hospital.
“We made the decision it was too dangerous to stay and pulled out,” he said, adding that he was heading to the medical center in a nearby city.
“The bullet is actually still in my neck,” he said, “but luckily it missed everything important, and it just got lodged behind my jaw. … The casing and everything is not on it, obviously, it’s just the perfectly formed little sharp-tipped bullet.”
Harvey said though there had been a few bullets hit the road in front of their crew when they had been closer to the fighting, they were a long way from the fighting when he was struck by the errant shot.
“This was the last place we expected this to happen.”
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Indeed, Marawi remains a very dangerous place as the Philippine government tries to regain control of the city, a Muslim area on the southern island of Mindanao. Zia Alonto Adiong, a politician who is helping in rescue and relief efforts, told reporters that fleeing residents told him they’d seen at least at least 100 dead bodies scattered in villages.
The military says more than three weeks of fighting has left 206 militants, 58 soldiers, and 26 civilians dead, Reuters reports.
Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, a military spokesman, told the news service that government troops were up against some 200 militants, many using sniper positions.
“We intend to finish the fight as soon as possible,” he said. “Our tactical commanders are doing their best.”