ISIS-linked militants reportedly captured nine Christians, tied their hands together and shot them dead in a city in the Philippines.
The Maute group forced the civilians off their truck at a roadside checkpoint in Marawi City on Wednesday and murdered them after they were identified as Christian, local media reported.
Harrowing images show the group lying dead face-down in the grass, amid reports that villagers are afraid to move the bodies because terrorists are still in the area.
One policeman was similarly caught at a checkpoint set up by the militants and beheaded on Wednesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said.
It comes as 100 US-trained special forces aboard helicopters and armoured tanks battled to retake the besieged southern city from rampaging jihadis.
ISIS-linked militants reportedly captured nine Christians, tied their hands together and shot them dead (pictured) in a city in the Philippines
The Maute group (pictured, a militant) forced the civilians off their truck at a roadside checkpoint in Marawi City on Wednesday and murdered them after they were identified as Christian, local media reported
It comes as 100 US-trained special forces aboard helicopters battled to retake the besieged southern city from rampaging jihadis
An armoured tank and government troops march to begin their assault against insurgents from the Maute group
Filipino soldiers hold on to fleeing children following reports of fresh clashes between government troops and rebels in Marawi City
Soldiers were seen crouched behind armoured vehicles and walls around lunchtime on Thursday, firing volleys of gunshots towards elevated positions occupied by Maute rebels. Smoke could also be seen on the horizon.
Five soldiers and one policemen died in the clashes, while 13 gunmen were killed, according to the military.
‘We’re confronting maybe 30 to 40 remaining from the local terrorist group,’ said Jo-Ar Herrera, a spokesman for the military’s First Infantry Regiment.
‘The military is conducting precise, surgical operations to flush them out … The situation is very fluid and movements are dynamic because we wanted to out-step and out-manoeuvre them,’ he said.
An initial rampage by the gunmen, who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, through the mainly Muslim city of Marawi on Tuesday prompted President Duterte to impose martial law across the southern third of the Philippines.
Extremists from the Maute group waved black ISIS flags as they stormed the streets of Marawi City after government troops conducted a raid on the hideout of the Filipino leader of ISIS
One image put out by ISIS media purports to show militants rampaging through the southern city
Authorities said ending the crisis was proving extremely hard because the militants were holed up in residential buildings, had planted improvised bombs in the streets and had taken Catholic hostages.
‘People are afraid. They do not want to open establishments. Offices are closed. We do not want people to be used as human shields,’ Marawi mayor Majul Usman Gandamra said.
Two military helicopters flew above Marawi and armoured tanks churned through its streets as automatic rifle firing could be heard on Thursday, according to an AFP photographer in the city.
Marawi has about 200,000 residents but many of them have fled because of the fighting.
Horrified villagers look as smoke billows from a house that caught fire during the clashes
Five soldiers and one policemen have died in the clashes, while 13 gunmen were killed, according to the military
Soldiers were seen crouched behind armoured vehicles and walls around lunchtime on Thursday, firing volleys of gunshots towards elevated positions occupied by Maute rebels
Government troops frisk a Muslim man at a checkpoint in Marawi City on Thursday
It is located in Lanao del Sur province, a stronghold of the Maute, a fierce, but little-known group that has been a tricky opponent for the military.
There are only between 50 and 100 gunmen, according to various military officials.
The militants are also holding between 12 and 15 Catholic hostages abducted from a church, according to the local bishop, Edwin Dela Pena.
Its activities are a source of concern for Mindanao native Duterte, who is familiar with separatist unrest but alarmed by the prospect of Islamic State’s radical ideology spreading in the Philippines.
‘One of Washington’s most-wanted terrorists: Who is Isnilon Hapilon?’
Isnilon Hapilon, an Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher known for his expertise in commando assaults, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2014.
He was purportedly designated leader of the Islamic State group’s Southeast Asia branch in 2016 but has long had ties to local extremist movements.
He is a commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group and was wounded by a military airstrike in January.
Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of Islamic State group’s Southeast Asia branch, is on Washington’s list of most-wanted terrorists and has a $5million bounty on his head
Hapilon gained notoriety beyond the Philippines when he allegedly helped Abu Sayyaf kidnap 20 hostages from a Filipino resort in 2001.
At least 21 people have died in fighting that erupted late Tuesday, when the army raided the Marawi hideout of Hapilon.
But the operation quickly went wrong.
Militants called in reinforcements and swept through the streets, torching buildings, taking a Catholic priest and his worshippers hostage and sealing off much of the city to the outside world.
The military said their intelligence revealed Hapilon was still in the area, but there was no indication he had been captured.
Hapilon is on Washington’s list of most-wanted terrorists and has a $5million bounty on his head.
Hundreds of civilians, including children, were sheltering in a military camp in Marawi City on Thursday.
The Maute had taken more than a dozen Christians hostage and set free 107 prisoners from two jails since Tuesday.
Bishops and cardinals had pleaded with the Maute rebels, who they said were using Christians and a priest as human shields. The status of the captives was unknown.
The fighting erupted on Tuesday after security forces raided a house where they believed Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the infamous Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom gang and Philippine head of IS, was hiding.
Fleeing villagers run during a military assault following reports of fresh clashes between government troops and rebels
Panicked residents carry as much of their belongings as they can while fleeing to safety
Hundreds of civilians, including children, were sheltering in a military camp in Marawi City
Residents walk through a grassy area to the evacuation centre as they flee the conflict
The United States regards Hapilon as one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists, offering a bounty of $5 million for his capture.
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 IS flags.
They also set fire to many buildings, including a church and a university.
A police chief has been beheaded and 21 people killed when more than 100 ISIS-linked militants stormed a city in the Philippines.
Members of the Maute Islamist group overran Marawi on Mindanao island leading to hours of pitched gun battles in the streets.
‘The chief of police in Malabang on his way home, going back he was stopped by a checkpoint manned by terrorists and I think they decapitated them right then and there,’ Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said.
Philippine troops arrive at their barracks to reinforce fellow troops following the siege by Muslim militants in Marawi where 21 people were killed
Chilling photographs from Marawi City in the Philippines, where an Islamist group has taken a priest hostage, show militants planting the ISIS flag on top of buildings
Terrorists also attacked the Cathedral of Our Lady Help and abducted church staff including Father Chito Suganob and worshipers.
‘They have threatened to kill the hostages if the government forces unleashed against them are not recalled,’ Filipino Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement.
National military spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo said 13 government soldiers were killed along with 13 militants.
President Duterte, who declared martial law in parts of Mindanao after militants clashed with soldiers in Marawi yesterday, said he may extend it to other parts of the country if extremists seek sanctuary elsewhere.
Several online posts appeared to show the black and white flag used by ISIS hung from buildings in Marawi
Soldiers search vehicles of fleeing residents at a checkpoint following militants overrunning Filipino city
Filipino government troops stand guard at a government facility following President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Davao city, Mindanao Island
‘We are in state of emergency,’ he told reporters in Manila after a state visit to Moscow, adding he would deal with militants ‘harshly’.
Chilling photos on social media purported to show Maute gunmen planting an ISIS-style black and white flag on top of a building in the middle of the city.
‘At the time of his capture, Father Chito was in the performance of his ministry as a priest,’ Archbishop Villegas said.
Islamist gunmen have taken hostages including a Catholic priest in Marawi, Philippines, shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law to combat extremism. Pictured: Troops evacuating people from Marawi
Members of the ISIS-inspired Maute Islamist group stormed the Cathedral of Our Lady Help, on Mindanao island (pictured)
Duterte (pictured) declared martial law across the southern region of Mindanao last night after Islamist militants rampaged through the city of Marawi
‘He was not a combatant. He was not bearing arms. He was a threat to none. His capture and that of his companions violates every norm of civilised conflict.’
But Marawi Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra has refused to confirm reports the terror group took hostages and insisted that the local government has the situation under control.
In a telephone interview with national broadcaster ANC, Gandamra said he was working with the military to bring peace and order to the city.
Police and military spokesmen were not immediately available to comment on Villegas’s report of the hostage taking.
Filipino Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the extremists have threatened to kill the hostages if the government forces unleashed against them are not recalled
Archbishop Villegas went on to say the extremists took an undisclosed number of hostages to a secret location and the abductees have not been heard from since
‘He was not a combatant,’ said Archbishop Villegas. ‘He was not bearing arms. He was a threat to none. His capture and that of his companions violates every norm of civilised conflict’
But Marawi Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra has refused to confirm reports the terror group took hostages in Marawi
The fighting in Marawi erupted yesterday when security forces raided a house they believed Isnilon Hapilon, leader of the infamous Abu Sayyaf kidnap gang
More than 100 gunmen responded to the raid by burning buildings and conducting other diversionary tactics
President Duterte says he may extend it to other parts of the country if extremists seek sanctuary elsewhere
The fighting in Marawi erupted yesterday when security forces raided a house they believed Isnilon Hapilon, leader of the infamous Abu Sayyaf kidnap gang and Philippine head of ISIS, was hiding.
WHAT HAPPENS UNDER MARTIAL LAW?
Martial law allows the president to ‘call out the armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion’, according to the constitution.
Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said security forces would be able to arrest suspected militants and hold them for three days without charge.
During the nine years of martial law under former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, police and troops tortured, abducted and killed thousands of people who were critical of the dictatorship, according to rights groups and historians.
Duterte said his version of martial law would be ‘harsh’ and similar to that under Marcos.
The United States regards Hapilon as one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists, offering a bounty of $6 million for his capture.
More than 100 gunmen responded to the raid by burning buildings and conducting other diversionary tactics, according to Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Security analysts say Hapilon has been trying to unite Filipino militant groups that have professed allegiance to IS.
These include the Maute group, named after two brothers who lead it and which is based near Marawi.
Duterte had repeatedly said the growing influence of Islamic State was one of the nation’s top security concerns, and martial law was necessary to stop it.
However Islamist militancy is not new to the southern Philippines, where a decades-long Muslim separatist insurgency claimed more than 120,000 lives.
Muslim rebels orchestrated a siege in the southern city of Zamboanga in 2013 that left more than 200 people dead.
Duterte had repeatedly said the growing influence of Islamic State was one of the nation’s top security concerns
Martial law allows the president to ‘call out the armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion’, according to the Filipino constitution
ISIS KILLS FIVE IN FIRST SUICIDE ATTACK IN SOMALIA
ISIS has claimed responsibility for its first ever suicide attack in the troubled African nation of Somalia.
Police said five people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a checkpoint in the north-eastern port city of Bosaso, in Puntland, today.
Witnesses told of how the blast occurred near a hotel often used as a meeting place for local officials.
‘I think the bomber was trying to target the hotel but he was stopped at the checkpoint close to the hotel and he decided to detonate his explosives,’ said witness Awke Mohamed.
Puntland, which set up its own government in 1998, often comes under attack from Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab militants.
It is also home to a breakaway group of fighters who have declared allegiance to ISIS – but failed to gather much support.
But the government of then-president Benigno Aquino did not declare martial law.
Aquino also said he had considered imposing martial law just before standing down last year in Sulu, island strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf in the far south of Mindanao.
But Aquino said he decided against it partly because military rule could spark resentment among local people.