Monday, 20 August, 2018

Philippines says militants shot dead at least 16 civilians

Christy Curtis | 30 May, 2017, 07:00

It quickly escalated into intense urban warfare, including helicopter rocket attacks on buildings where Islamist fighters were thought to be holed up.

The violence in Marawi erupted in the moments after a failed attempt by security forces to capture Hapilon, the Abu Sayyaf leader who the government believes is Islamic State's point man in the Philippines.

About 60 militants and 15 members of the security forces have been killed since Saturday, the army says. The number of civilian dead was unknown.

As this developed, Senator Nancy Binay called on the AFP, members of the media, and the local government of Marawi City to rescue the children allegedly being used by the Maute Group as "child warriors".

IRIN accompanied soldiers past hundreds of residents who were fleeing in the opposite direction, many on foot, pushing carts full of possessions. Soldiers took positions against walls pockmarked by bullets; smoke rose in the distance.

Up to 2,000 Philippine people are still stuck inside Marawi city of Mindanao, southern the Philippines, as fierce fighting between the Philippine security forces and Islamic militants continues. A paper sign attached to one of the men indicated the victims "betrayed their faith".

"It simply means to say that those who have true and accurate report - and true and accurate report - in which he will depend on will be the military and the Philippine National Police", he added.

Maute militants flew an IS flag in one of the city's mosques a year ago, a local resident said, speaking on condition of anonymity, fearing for his safety.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the southern third of the Philippines in response to the clashes, which have claimed at least 48 lives and he has said are part of a campaign by the Islamic State (IS) to establish a local caliphate.

The Philippines, which is majority Catholic, has faced Muslim separatist movements for decades in Mindanao with its significant Muslim population.

Flag Region 7 believes that martial law is not the answer to Mindanao's age-old problems, which are poverty, exploitation of our Muslim brothers by their leaders and Christian settlers, and the deepening despair of many Muslims that has bred banditry and religious fanaticism.

Mr Duterte's comments contradicted a government statement released on Saturday to explain martial law.

All of the groups are inspired by the Islamic State group.

MalacaƱang on Sunday brushed off "misguided" criticisms of President Duterte's martial law declaration in Mindanao.

Army spokesman, Colonal Edgard Arevalo, said "surgical strikes" were taken on "known and verified enemy positions".

SENDING A MESSAGE - Muslim children deliver their message of peace in Marawi before afternoon prayer at the Golden Mosque in Quiapo, Manila, Monday.

Duterte, who has overseen a controversial war on drugs as president in which thousands of people have died, on Wednesday praised Marcos. "Significantly, we have successfully rescued and assisted 124 trapped civilian residents since the start of operations", Padilla said.

"The root cause of the present crisis is illegal drugs. The others were not so lucky", a visibly shocked Bandung said. If a president decides to extend martial law, congress can again review and revoke.

The week-long standoff in Marawi brings to mind the 2013 Zamboanga siege between government forces and fighters aligned with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nurulaji "Nur" P. Misuari - a crisis that dragged on for nearly three weeks and leading to more than a hundred killed. "We want the government to be able to crush the group, because we can not afford to have another siege".

But there has been minimal public outcry over his martial law declaration.

Jalal Bilao, a Marawi resident and former vice-mayor of nearby Tubaran, ventured out into the deserted streets in his neighbourhood. Almost 100 people have died as the government tries to drive out ISIS-allied militants.

"He appears to exhibit the mindset of a criminal, a woman hater, a person who thrills and derives dark pleasure from attacking treasured norms and values of families and societies", she said.

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