ILIGAN, Philippines — A Roman Catholic priest who was held hostage for months by Islamic State-inspired militants in the war-torn southern city of Marawi has been freed, the Philippine military said on Sunday, as it moved closer to rooting out the remaining gunmen from their strongholds.
The Rev. Teresito Suganob was rescued late Saturday by troops who cleared a mosque that militants had been using as a defensive post, the authorities said.
“He was rescued by our men on the ground,” said Jesus Dureza, a senior presidential adviser.
Amer Hamzah Lucman last saw Omar Maute at their high school reunion around five years ago. While Lucman’s memory is fuzzy now, he remembers plenty of good-natured ribbing and reminiscing, and Maute talking about how being in the company of old friends made the world’s problems seem to fade away. The next time Lucman heard from Maute was on May 30, under decidedly horrific circumstances that may have long-term implications for regional security and transnational terrorism.
One week earlier, a group of pro-ISIS fighters led by Maute and his brother, Abdullah, overran Marawi City, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.
Muslims desecrate a church in the Philippines city of Marawi.
The Pentagon is reportedly mulling plans to conduct airstrikes against Isil terrorist targets in the Philippines.
A recent surge of terrorist networks affiliated to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), including an ongoing assault on the southern city of Marawi, has caused alarm in the Philippines and neighbouring countries that Islamic State could establish a regional southeast Asian hub even as it declines in the Middle East.
The authority to strike Isil targets as part of a strategy of collective defence could become part of a military operation that may be named as early as Tuesday, two defence officials told NBC News.
For many months intelligence agencies have warned that battle-hardened ISIS fighters being routed in Iraq and Syria were setting up a new front and had formed alliances between up to six jihadist groups in the Philippines including the deadly Abu Sayef and Maute groups and Ansar Khalifa Philippines and 60 groups elsewhere in the region including the remnants of the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiah — the group behind the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings.
A second month of fighting between government troops and Muslim rebels in a southern Philippine city is turning to a search for a man sought by Manila as well as the United States for his leadership in terrorism over the past 20 years.
Philippine troops believe Isnilon Totoni Hapilon may be hiding in the largely demolished city of Marawi. Troops attacked Marawi May 23 because they feared Hapilon’s historically violent Abu Sayyaf group was forming links with another rebel organization there.
Police from a region in the majority-Christian Philippines are considering issuing mandatory identification cards to thousands of Muslims living there – a proposal Human Rights Watch condemned as “collective punishment”.
Five decapitated civilians were found in a Philippine city occupied by Islamist rebels on Wednesday, the military said, warning the number of residents killed by rebel “atrocities” could rise sharply as troops retake more ground.
The discovery of the five victims among 17 bodies retrieved would be the first evidence that civilians trapped in besieged Marawi City have been decapitated during the five-week stand by militants loyal to the Islamic State group, as some who escaped the city have previously reported.
Some 71 security forces and 299 militants have been killed and 246,000 people displaced in the conflict, which erupted after a failed attempt on May 23 to arrest a Filipino militant commander backed by Islamic State’s leadership.
Civilians held hostage by Islamist militants occupying a southern Philippine city have been forced to loot homes, take up arms against government troops and serve as sex slaves for rebel fighters, the army said on Tuesday.
Citing accounts of seven residents of Marawi City who either escaped or were rescued, the military said some hostages were forced to convert to Islam, carry wounded fighters to mosques, and marry militants of the Maute group loyal to Islamic State.
The latest update on the mysterious circumstances surrounding a collision between a Philippines’ flagged container ship and a Navy destroyer that left seven sailors dead has arrived, courtesy of Reuters.
The news agency is reporting exclusively that the USS Fitzgerald ignore the much-larger cargo ship’s repeated warnings to get out of its path of travel.
WASHINGTON — Southeast Asia’s jihadis who fought by the hundreds for the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria now have a different battle closer to home in the southern Philippines. It’s a scenario raising significant alarm in Washington.
The recent assault by ISIS-aligned fighters on the Philippine city of Marawi has left more than 300 people dead, exposing the shortcomings of local security forces and the extremist group’s spreading reach in a region where counterterrorism gains are coming undone.
Residents fleeing Marawi have reported seeing scores of dead bodies after clashes between the military and Islamist fighters, a Philippine politician says. Many civilians remain trapped inside the besieged city.
On his Facebook profile page Omarkhayam Romato Maute describes himself as a “Walking Time-Bomb”.
When a band of militants led by Omarkhayam and one of his brothers over-ran a town in the southern Philippines on May 23, festooning its alleyways with the black banners of Islamic State, the Facebook description seemed appropriate.
Governments across Southeast Asia had been bracing for the time when Islamic State, on a back foot in Iraq and Syria, would look to establish a ‘caliphate’ in Southeast Asia and become a terrifying threat to the region.