In one besieged Philippines town, ISIS militants are holding 1,500 people hostage, while killing Christians, as they raid the town. It is being reported that many Christians are borrowing hijab and disguising themselves in order to escape the radical islamists who are waging war in the Philippines.
Other local news stations are reporting that some towns have been blocked off from supplies, and residents are resorting to eating blankets and paper to stay alive. Reuters showed several Christians and police officers dashing from sniper fire this week as they attempt to reach government controlled land.
“We ran the last part” said First Officer Lumna Lidasan, 44. “We could see the bridge ahead of us. We had to take cover several times when we saw a sniper.”
The Daily Mail reports:
Almost the entire population of more than 200,000 fled after May 23, when fighters from local groups allied to ISIS rampaged through the Muslim-majority town, killing and kidnapping Christians.
The military estimates that, as the siege enters its fourth week, between 300 and 600 civilians are still trapped or being held as human shields in neighbourhoods occupied by the militants.
The insurgents have been suppressing government troops with skilled snipers, rocket-propelled grenades and high-velocity assault weapons, according to Philippine army officials.
Those stuck in their homes have no running water or electricity and many are near starvation, said Zia Alonto Adiong, a local politician managing rescue and relief efforts.
He said that in a text message pleading for help, one family said they had ‘started to eat their blankets’.
‘They are crossing the bridge, taking the risk, because they don’t have any option – either they die inside the house or they die getting out,’ he told reporters on Monday.
At least 100 people have made their way out on foot, braving volleys of sniper fire, said Adiong. Others have swum across the river or town-side lake to safety, according to relief workers.
Doctors treating those who escaped say they have been struck by the resilience of people who spent weeks surviving in a conflict zone and witnessing horrific violence.
‘Some of the stories that stuck were Muslims helping protect Christian workers by letting them borrow a hijab,’ said Dr Gioia Ancheta, head of the psychosocial therapy team.
As they approached the bridge on Tuesday morning, officer Lidasan could see troops waiting on the other side.
Terrified, but realising there was no turning back, the police officers and the Christians they had protected for three weeks, raced across the 25m stretch with no cover from snipers nesting in the town’s tall buildings.