Mindanao Under Attack by Islamists, Martial Law Declared
The Philippine island of Mindanao came under attack from Islamic extremists and ISIS fighters who teamed up to lay siege to Marawi City. President Rodrigo Duterte left an important meeting in Moscow, Russia to go home and deal with the crisis. He declared Martial Law to be in effect for 60 days. The announcement was made by spokesperson Ernesto Abella shortly after 10 p.m. on Tuesday.
When Philippine troops raided the house of a terrorist suspect early Tuesday, a gun battle broke out. The militants called for reinforcements from the ISIS-backed group called Maute. Gunman then took over city hall, a hospital, a jail, then burned a Catholic church, a jail, a college and some houses. At least two soldiers and a police officer were killed, 12 others wounded.
“Military chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Ano said the fighting broke out in Marawi when troops attacked a hideout for Muslim extremist leader Isnilon Hapilon.
Hapilon reportedly has been chosen to lead an Islamic State group branch in Southeast Asia and is on the U.S. Department of Justice list of most-wanted terrorists worldwide, with a reward of up to $5 million for his capture. An Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher known for his expertise in commando assaults, he pledged allegiance to the IS group in 2014, according to security officials.
Ano said Hapilon, who is still recovering from wounds sustained in a military airstrike in January, and more than a dozen of his men summoned reinforcements from their allies in the Maute militant group. Ano said nearly 50 gunmen in all managed to enter the city.”
Some terrorists were killed, the rest literally laid siege to the city. Power was cut to the primarily Muslim city of about 200,000.
“The whole of Marawi city is blacked out, there is no light, and there are Maute snipers all around.” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
There are Christians on Mindanao, a few of whom are friends of this author. The government advised people to stay in their homes or flee if it was safe.
The Maute group of terrorists pledged allegiance to ISIS some time ago, and clashes with them have reportedly lasted several days. The Philippine government is sending hundreds of troops to the area, which will severely outnumber the militants. As of a short time ago, the fires were dying down, and the local authorities said the situation was “under control.”