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Priest among 14 hostages taken in siege of Philippines city

25 May, 2017, 01:49 | Author: Eddie Kim
  • Forces in Marawi

Militants linked to Islamic State abducted a Catholic priest and 13 parishioners while laying siege to a city in the Philippines last night.

President Rodrigo Duterte Tuesday declared martial law on the island of Mindanao following the eruption of clashes between the military and the Maute group.

Carrying the black standard of ISIS, the Maute militants also set fire to schools and government buildings in the city of Marawi, where security forces have clashed with Muslim fighters since Tuesday afternoon.

Duterte cut short a visit to Russian Federation and placed the southern island of 22 million people under military rule on Tuesday, and said he would keep it that way for a year if necessary.

There were also circulating reports that terrorists raised their black flag at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center and attacked the city's police station, but Herrera said they are still validating the information.

"There are Maute snipers all around, so the troops are still holding and elements have already joined", he said.

Reports say at least two soldiers and a policeman have been killed while 12 were injured during the standoff in Muslim-majority Malawi.

Speaking to reporters after returning to Manila from a visit to Moscow, Duterte repeated that he will deal with militants "harshly" after declaring martial law in the southern Mindanao region, home to a decadeslong Muslim separatist rebellion.

Martial law is particularly sensitive in the Philippines because it was used by dictator Ferdinand Marcos to remain in power during his two-decade reign, which ended in 1986 with a "People Power" revolution.

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Martial law allows Duterte to use the armed forces to carry out arrests, searches and detentions more rapidly.

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Socrates Villegas urged Filipino Catholics to pray for the safety of those taken hostage, including a priest, by the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City.

Authorities have accused the Maute of involvement in a bombing in Duterte's hometown of Davao in September that left 14 people dead. The group has declared loyalty to the Islamic State militant group.

A separate report from the ARMM Heart (Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team) disclosed that the five hostages are Fr. Chito Suganob, Prof.

"The physical presence of the President is needed in the Philippines".

Tuesday's raid was aimed at capturing Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf group notorious for piracy, banditry and for kidnapping and beheading Westerners.

According to Philippines Star Global, this was a military strike that was part of the ongoing internal conflict in the Philippines, according to Brig.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, the Western Mindanao Command chief in Zamboanga City, claimed to have killed or wounded an undetermined number of militants.

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