Along with ethnically cleansing the city of Marawi, ISIS has also taken to the local churches to destroy them. In a video released by the ISIS media company ‘Amaq, ISIS members are shown destroying icons in a Catholic church in Marawi City, toppling and smashing statues and crucifixes, tearing up pictures of the Pope, and setting fire to the church.
NBC (h/t eran) A lakeside city in the southern Philippines has been rocked by violence after ISIS-linked militants took hostages from a Catholic church and defiantly raised black flags synonymous with the terror group.
The clash in Muslim-majority Marawi, where firefighting erupted Tuesday, has led to at least 44 deaths involving militants, soldiers and police, according to the country’s Armed Forces. Some civilians were reportedly being used as human shields, while others, including children, were evacuated with the help of the military.
And yet the world continues to condemn the Philippine president for declaring Martial Law in the Muslim area of Southern Philippines. In response to the surge in Islamic terrorism, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the southern tier of the Philippines and is warning he could expand it to the entire island nation of 100 million.
What happens next is being closely watched for how Duterte — dubbed “The Punisher” for his extreme positions and boasting of personally killing criminals in the nation’s drug war — handles a fraught situation that could potentially destabilize any chance for meaningful peace.
They are known as Abu Sayyaf, armed militants who reside in the southern Philippines — home to a mostly Muslim population compared to the rest of the nation, which is predominantly Catholic.
Duterte has been the target of widespread international condemnation for giving shoot to kill orders to his soldiers whenever Muslim extremists or drug dealers are involved. President Trump has praised Duterte for his efforts to wipe out Islamic terrorism.
Abu Sayyaf, which translates to “bearer of the sword” in Arabic, was previously part of the larger political organization Moro National Liberation Front, which over the decades has held talks with the Philippine government for autonomy for the Moro (Muslim) communities. But Muslim factions want more — they want to secede — and have captured and killed foreigners, including Americans, in their pursuit for full independence.
And now he has. While the West is wringing its collective hands over Duterte imposing Martial Law, the Philippines Army rescued 78 hostages and killed the 13 Islamic State-linked Muslim terrorists who were holding them.
RT (h/t Mano) The army managed to kill at least 13 gunmen of the IS-affiliated (Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL) Maute group who had overrun the local clinic, taking hostages, and occupying Marawi’s City Hall.
Government forces managed to rescue 78 civilians from the Amai Pakpak Medical Center where the terrorists tried to use them as human shields as the army moved in, Western Mindanao Command chief, Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., said according to the PhilStar daily. The troops also secured 42 teachers who had taken refuge and got trapped at Dansalan College after the city was engulfed in violence.
Authorities provided no details of civilian injuries and casualties, but said at least 31 soldiers were wounded in the attempt to rescue the hostages and escort civilians to safety.
On Tuesday night, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire island of Mindanao under martial law for 60 days after battles between government troops and the Maute in Marawi escalated. Duterte was forced to cut short his trip to Russia to return home to tackle the terrorist insurgency.
Duterte also warned that he will not hesitate to declare martial law throughout the entire country if terrorism spills beyond Mindanao.
“Government may consider the covered areas of martial law, in the event that members of Maute group and other ISIS-affiliated terrorists seek sanctuary or expand their terrorist activities in the Visayas and Mindanao,” Duterte said. “I will not allow the country to go to the dogs. As I said, the military has the primary role now of keeping the law and order situation and in all parts of the Republic of the Philippines,” the president said.