NINE civilians were executed by the Islamic State-inspired Maute group while at least five soldiers and two policemen were killed and 33 other people were wounded in ongoing clashes in Marawi City.
Residents of Sitio Moncado in Barangay Kadilingan discovered the corpses of the nine civilian victims, who were reportedly stopped by members of the terrorist group when they passed by one of the checkpoints set up by the Maute group.
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman said the Maute group also freed 107 inmates from the Malabang District Jail and the Marawi City Jail.
The attack prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao on Tuesday night to arrest the terrorists and stop the violence there.
The initial reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo said among the fatalities were six soldiers, including an officer, and two policemen.
However, Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesman of the Army’s Western Mindanao Command, said three soldiers and one policeman were killed while 10 were wounded.
In other developments:
• The Islamist militants battling security forces in Marawi have taken hostages, including a local priest, the Catholic Church said Wednesday after Duterte declared martial law to combat the gunmen.
“Father Chito Suganob and others were in the Cathedral of Our Lady Help of Christians when members of the Maute fighting group forced their way into the Cathedral, taking with them Fr. Chito and others as hostages,” Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement.
“They have threatened to kill the hostages if the government forces unleashed against them are not recalled.”
• The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines prayed for the safety of all hostages, including a Catholic priest, who were taken by the militants linked to the Islamic State that attacked Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.
Villegas also asked the government to ensure the safety of the hostages as they pursued the militants.
“As the government forces ensure that the law is upheld, we beg of them to make the safety of the hostages a primordial consideration,” Villegas said.
• Thousands of Marawi City residents fled their homes for nearby Iligan and Cagayan de Oro City on Wednesday.
On board private and public vehicles, the residents took their belongings with them even as fear was evident on their faces.
One resident said that they feared for their lives as the Maute group clashed with government forces Tuesday afternoon with the firefight lasting throughout the night.
• The provincial government of Lanao del Norte said Wednesday it was ready to receive any possible evacuees following the violence in Marawi City on Tuesday.
Lyndon Calica, Lanao del Norte information officer, said Gov. Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo had instructed the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office to prepare for the possible flow of displaced residents from Marawi.
“The governor has ordered the mobilization of the quick response team in case evacuees will arrive from Marawi,” Calica said Wednesday.
• Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte said Wednesday the city was secured following the announcement of President Duterte that the entire Mindanao was under martial law due to the terror attacks in Marawi City.
Earlier, Mayor Duterte declared a city lockdown an hour after her father put Mindanao under martial law.
The Maute group had reportedly taken at least 10 civilian hostages to include Teresito Suganob, parish priest of the Cathedral of Our Lady Help of Christians, the Church secretary Wendelyn Mayormita, two parishioners, two working students and four others.
In a radio interview, Jaime Mayormita, husband of Wendelyn, said her wife was at the office preparing for the celebration of the Feast of the Mary Help of Christians when the bandits barged in and torched its convent.
“I called up her cellphone but she was not answering it. Instead a male voice was responding to it,” Jaime said as he suspected that his wife was among those taken hostage by the Maute group.
The voice of the man in her wife’s cellphone told him that the military should not enter Marawi City for still unknown reasons.
He then pleaded to her wife’s abductors to release all the people including Wendelyn.
Close to 100 Maute fighters are still in Marawi City engaging ground troops in sporadic fighting even as more troops arrived to reclaim the structures and houses occupied by the extremists to include elements of the Abu Sayyaf led by Isnilon Hapilon.
Marawi City is in ghost town with residents fleeing, some sheltering in government centers to escape the fighting between military and the Maute group.
AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Edgard Arevalo said the fighting occurred following the conduct of law enforcement operations relating to the presence of Hapilon in an area in Marawi City.
“While law enforcers are out to apply a warrant of arrest against a high-value target [Hapilon] a firefight broke out,” Arevalo said. With AFP, Vito Barcelo, Lance Baconguis and F. Pearl A. Gajunera
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.