Islamic militants terrorizing the southern Philippines are forcing their female hostages into sexual slavery, the military revealed Tuesday.
“They are being forced to be sex slaves, forced to destroy the dignity of these women,” Joint Task Force Marawi spokesperson Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera said in a press briefing. Several hostages were rescued from Marawi, a southern city where Filipino forces are fighting to drive out militants flying the black standard of the Islamic State.
The majority of the fighters are members of the Maute Group, which has sworn allegiance to ISIS, but the military has also discovered foreign fighters among the militants, hinting at a larger ISIS operation. ISIS has claimed Marawi for the caliphate, and the group dedicated a significant portion of a recent publication to the conflict. The terror network celebrated the murder of Christians in the wrecked city.
The battle, which began when militants stormed the city, has been ongoing for over a month. The death toll has steadily climbed, as hundreds of militants have been eradicated, but at great cost — the lives of dozens of soldiers and civilians. When the militants took Marawi, they torched schools and churches, murdered civilians, and took Christian hostages.
Government security forces rescued seven hostages, who told terrible stories of their time in captivity.
The Islamic militants tearing apart the city are forcing civilian hostages to loot homes, take up arms against the military, carry wounded soldiers to mosques for care, and, in some cases, convert to Islam.
In the wake of the military’s report, Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesman for the provincial crisis management committee, said that the actions of the radical extremists do not represent the Muslim community in the Philippines.
“Our religion is very clear in giving priority to decency of women,” he explained, adding, “What we just heard from Col. Herrera, the condition of this people does not represent completely what Islam is all about.”
The death toll for Marawi is just short of 400, with 290 jihadis, 70 soldiers, and at least 27 civilians among the dead. President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in the southern Philippines and encouraged the military to eradicate the militants through ground raids, as well as airstrikes and bombing runs.
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