Published: Fri, May 26, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Thousands Flee Philippine City After ISIS Rampage Prompts Widespread Panic

Residents flee three days after Muslim militants lay siege in Marawi city in southern Philippines Thursday, May 25, 2017.

MARAWI CITY, Philippines, May 25 (Reuters) - The Philippines deployed attack helicopters and special forces to drive out Islamic State-linked rebels holed up in a besieged southern city on Thursday, as efforts to take back control met heavy resistance. Militants called in reinforcements and quickly overpowered the authorities.

Gunmen dressed as police stopped the couple's vehicle and shot and wounded a man who intervened after he rescued a third person who was in the auto, according to Pakistani police and China's official Xinhua news agency.

"We are requesting our people in Marawi to go to safe places... and to stay indoors", he told reporters. They said six soldiers perished in Thursday's fighting.

Local GMA television network showed images of nine bullet-riddled bodies lying in a field with their hands tied together.

Duterte said a local police chief was stopped at a militant checkpoint and beheaded.

And Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Pena said the militants forced their way into the Marawi Cathedral and seized a Catholic priest, 10 worshippers and three church workers.

President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in Mindanao in response to the clashes with the Maute group that started when the militants fired on security forces out to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who is believed to be in Lanao del Sur to link up with the Maute group. Hapilon is on Washington's list of most-wanted terrorists and has a $5 million bounty on his head.

However, the raid went spectacularly wrong as dozens of gunmen emerged to repel the security forces, then went on a rampage across the city while flying black Daesh flags.

Hapilon, an Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher known for his expertise in commando assaults, pledged allegiance to the ISIS group in 2014.

Iran accuses USA of 'Iranophobia', arming 'dangerous terrorists'
Michael Flynn, Trump's national security advisor at the time, said the United States was "officially putting Iran on notice". The ideological cleric represents a post-revolutionary Iran that has largely dissipated from the popular imagination.

"We assure all residents of Marawi and the rest of Mindanao that we have enough rice in NFA warehouses in the area".

They also set fire to many buildings, including a church and a university.

In the city where Duterte was mayor for 22 years, and enjoys a cult-like following, residents were supportive of martial law.

"If I think you should die, you will die".

Muslim rebels have been fighting since the 1970s for an independent or autonomous homeland in Mindanao, with the conflict claiming more than 120,000 lives.

While pursuing peace talks with two large Muslim rebel groups in the south, Duterte has ordered the military to destroy smaller extremist groups which have tried to align with the ISIS group.

The group has pledged allegiance to IS, although the Philippine military says there is no evidence of active cooperation with foreign militants.

The declaration of martial law was meant to address threats by the Maute group, Abu Sayyaf and other rebel groups, the Palace said in a report to Congress on the declaration of martial law.

Duterte warned he may expand martial law nationwide, an unnerving development for many in the Philippines who lived through the rule of Ferdinand Marcos.

Download the Nigeria Today app from Play store. Nigeria News and World News.

Like this: