The death toll in a city in the southern Philippines overrun by Islamic State-linked Muslim militants rose Wednesday as the military discovered the bodies of five decapitated civilians.
The military warned that atrocities are expected to continue as Filipino troops liberate Marawi, where the armed forces have been combating militants affiliated with Islamic separatist groups, specifically the ISIS-aligned Maute Group, for over a month. The militants, who carry the black ISIS standard into battle, have torched schools and churches, slaughtered civilians, and taken hostages.
The military has leveled whole sections of the city through airstrikes and bombing runs in an attempt to exterminate the terrorists attempting to build an Islamic caliphate in the southern Philippines. President Rodrigo Duterte, who has declared martial law in the south, says the Philippines is facing a “very dangerous situation” as young Muslims buy into the Islamic State’s “mass insanity,” Reuters reports.
“All they do is just to kill and destroy, and killing in a most brutal way,” the president said, adding, “They enjoy decapitating people.” Duterte asserted that the jihadis need to be taken out with ferocity.
The atrocities carried out by the militants in Marawi are already numerous.
Early in the campaign, the extremists bound and executed civilians who failed to recite prayers from the Quran. As the battle raged on, the Islamic State released images of its fighters gunning down captured Christians in Marawi, which ISIS has claimed for the caliphate. The armed forces revealed Tuesday that the radical militants have also been turning women female hostages into sex slaves, while other captive civilians, including young children, are forced onto the battlefield to loot supplies, carry the wounded to local mosques for medical care, and serve as human shields.
The five decapitated civilians were discovered among a collection of 17 other bodies, according to Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Garcia of the Western Mindanao Command. Some have questioned the authenticity of this report though.
More than 70 soldiers and at least 40 civilians have lost their lives in the fight for Marawi, although the civilian death toll is potentially much higher. Around 300 militants have been killed, and roughly 200,000 people have been displaced.
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