Philippines says militants shot dead at least 16 civilians

May 29, 2017, 09:01

Two thousand frightened civilians were trapped yesterday inside a southern Philippine city where troops were battling Islamist militants, the authorities said, as the death toll from nearly a week of fighting neared 100.

Thousands of civilians have streamed out of Marawi but more than 2,000 are still trapped inside the city.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., a military commander, said about 150 trapped civilians have been rescued by troops from their homes, adding that the militants were burning houses to distract troops. "They fear they will be hit by bullets, by airstrikes".

"But for this martial law and the consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I and I alone would be responsible, just do your job, I will take care of the rest", Duterte said on Friday, according to a president's office transcript. Liong, his wife and eight children lost everything, he said - even their cooking pots.

"Together we pray for an end to terrorism that falsely claims to advance Islam and seeks to subjugate our land to the brutal IS", Abella said in a statement. "Compared to the initial days, there has been increasingly less resistance from the militants within Marawi", he said, speaking by phone from the capital, Manila.

Military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said the dead include a group of four men, three women and a child who were found near a road close to the Mindanao State University in Marawi. Attached to one of the bodies was a sign that said "Munafik" (traitor).

Recalling information provided by their manager, Mangadang said the victims were pulled off a truck because they were unable to cite verses of the Koran, the Islamic holy text.

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"The hands of some of the victims were tied behind their backs, and a lot of them were shot in the head", police officer Jamael Mangadang of a security task force, told reporters.Padilla says 61 militants have been killed together with 13 soldiers and four police officers since Tuesday, when a failed raid to capture one of Asia's top militants triggered an attack on the city.

Eight bodies were found in a ravine on the outskirts of Marawi City.

The violence erupted Tuesday night when the government launched a raid to capture Ipsilon Hapilon, who is on Washington's list of most-wanted terrorists.

Christians were taken hostage, according to church leaders, and more than 100 inmates, among them militants, were freed when rebels took over two jails.

Philippine security forces on Saturday intensified a bombing campaign on homes and other buildings in a southern city where they have been battling Islamist militants for five days, and warned there may be collateral damage. There was no word on their condition. He also heads an alliance of at least 10 smaller militant groups, including the Maute, which has a heavy presence in Marawi and has been instrumental in fighting off government forces in the current battles.

The discovery confirms days of speculation that Maute rebels had killed civilians during a takeover of Marawi, that the military believes is aimed at winning the Maute recognition from the Islamic State as a Southeast Asian affiliate. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters that Hapilon has received funds from the Islamic State group. The United States regards Hapilon as one of the world's most risky terrorists and has offered a bounty of Dollars 5 million for his capture.

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