Reuters published photos this weekend out of the Philippines, where an attempted ISIS takeover is consuming the country. Current reports state that 19 civilians have been killed just this past weekend by Islamic militants, including woman and children.
The terrorist killings occurred in a mostly Muslim city, Marawi, which has a 200,000 population.
Lieutenant Colonel Jo-ar Herrera said, “These are civilians, women. These terrorists are anti-people. We found their bodies while conducting rescue operations (on Saturday).”
The Philippines has been suffering from ISIS related incidents ever since last week, a small army of ISIS fighters, led by a veteran Filipino fighter, Isnilon Hapilon.
The Daily Mail reports:
Herrera said the military had yet to investigate the reported deaths.
The violence began when dozens of gunmen went on a rampage throughout Marawi after security forces attempted to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, a veteran Filipino militant regarded as the local leader of ISIS.
The gunmen planted black ISIS flags, took a priest and up to 14 other people hostage from a church, and set fire to buildings.
Thirteen soldiers, two policemen and 51 militants have died in the fighting, according to authorities. This brings the combined official death toll to at least 85.
Most of the city’s residents have fled because of the fighting, which has seen the military heavily bomb residential areas where the militants were believed to be hiding.
The military announced on Saturday, the start of the Holy month of Ramadan, that it would intensify the bombing campaign.
Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla said: ‘In as much as we would like to avoid collateral damage, these rebels are forcing the hand of government by hiding and holding out inside private homes, government buildings and other facilities.’
‘Their refusal to surrender is holding the city captive. Hence, it is now increasingly becoming necessary to use more surgical airstrikes to clear the city and to bring this rebellion to a quicker end.’
Filipino president Roger Duterte and military chiefs have said most of the militants belong to the local Maute group, which they estimate has about 260 armed followers and has declared allegiance to ISIS.
But Duterte has said local criminals are backing the Maute in Marawi.