• Sunday, Oct 02, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

89 militants killed in Philippine urban battle

  • Published at 10:31 am May 31st, 2017
89 militants killed in Philippine urban battle

Philippine troops have killed 89 Islamist militants during more than a week of urban battles but a final showdown is expected to be fierce as the gunmen protect their leaders and hold hostages, authorities said Wednesday.

Attack helicopters fired rockets on Wednesday morning into parts of Marawi, a Muslim city in the south of the mainly Catholic Philippines, that were still controlled by the militants fighting under the black flag of the Islamic State.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the entire southern region of Mindanao in response to the crisis, which he described as the start of a major campaign by IS to establish a foothold in the Philippines.

89 militants had been killed in the fighting and the amount of territory in the city that the remaining gunmen controlled had been cut to just 10%, military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla said Wednesday.

However Padilla warned of more intense battles ahead, with the military believing three of the militants' main leaders were likely still in the city.

"That 10% is most likely the area that is heavily guarded and defended by any armed men if they are protecting any individual of high value," Padilla said. The militants are also holding an unknown number of civilians hostage, according to Padilla and other authorities. They initially took a priest and up to 14 other people hostage at the start of the crisis. A video of the priest appeared on social media on Tuesday, in which he repeated the militants' demands to withdraw and said his captors were holding 240 people hostage. Padilla said the number of people cited in the video as being held hostage could not be verified. He insisted the release of the footage showed the militants were becoming increasingly desperate and said security forces would not back down.

'Terrible' ordeal

Another major complicating factor was the safety of about 2,000 residents who the local government said remained trapped in the militant-controlled areas, with troops, police and aid workers trying to rescue them. "It was a terrible situation. We did not have anything to eat," Jenita Abanilla, 47, a laundrywoman, told reporters at an evacuation centre in Marawi on Wednesday shortly after heavily armed police brought her to safety. Abanilla said she, her eight-year-old son, her husband plus eight other neighbours and relatives had often hid kneeling with their faces on the floor of her house. Padilla said Wednesday the militants had murdered 19 civilians but insisted that the military's "precision airstrikes" had not killed any of the trapped residents. Twenty-one security forces had also died, Padilla said, bringing the combined death toll to 129.

The clashes erupted when security forces raided a house to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, a veteran Filipino militant regarded as IS's leader in the Philippines and who is on the US government's list of most-wanted terrorists.

Authorities said they were taken by surprise when dozens of gunmen emerged to protect Hapilon and then went on a rampage through Marawi, the Philippines' main Islamic city with a population of 200,000.

Hapilon was being protected by members of the local Maute group, a small band of militants who has declared allegiance to IS, according to the government. Malaysians, Singaporean, Indonesian and other fighters had been involved in the unrest, according to the military.

A Muslim separatist rebellion in the southern Philippines has killed more than 120,000 people since the 1970s.

The main Muslim rebel groups have signed accords with the government aimed at forging lasting peace, giving up their separatist ambitions in return for autonomy.

The Maute and other hardline groups have rejected the peace process.

50
Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail