Maute group holds priest, 4 others hostages — ARMM exec


Resident fleeing from Marawi city,where gunmen who had declared allegiance to the Islamic State group rampaged through the southern city, are cramped on a truck as they traverse a traffic gridlock near a police checkpoint at the entrance of Iligan City, in southern island of Mindanao on May 24, 2017.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned that martial law would be “harsh” and like a dictatorship, after imposing military rule in the south of the country to combat Islamist militants. / AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE

The Islamic State–linked Maute group has taken hostages a Catholic priest and four other civilians in Marawi City, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Regional Vice Gov. Haroun Alrashid Lucman said on Wednesday.

Lucman confirmed this information to in a phone interview. He said his office was able to validate reports that the Maute group has five hostages; however, the names were not immediately available.

He also said that fighting has subsided since 10 a.m. Wednesday but the presence of the terrorists were still reported in some parts of Marawi City.

“Andito pa din ang ISIS sa some parts of Marawi. Medyo na clear na ang parts (of Marawi) pero may area na andun pa,” he said.

A separate report from the ARMM Heart (Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team) disclosed that the five hostages are Fr. Chito Suganob, Prof. Maria Luisa Colina and three others identified only as Sam, Wendell and Wilbert.

A separate report released by the regional police office in Mindanao, meanwhile, initially named the four hostages as Suganob, Ma. Louisa Colina, Wendelyn Mayormita and Crispina Banrang.

Catholic Bishops’ of the Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Socrates Villegas earlier said that Suganob was abducted while performing his ministry as a priest at St. Mary’s Church, a parish church in Marawi City.

The terrorists forced their way to the cathedral and took the hostages.

The CBCP said the church received reports that there were eight hostages but they were not able to give the names of all of them.

Lucman said a management crisis committee has been activated to address the situation. He has been holding office at Marawi Provincial Capitol where he had been receiving different reports from various sources.

During the phone interview, Lucman had to cut the conversation short as they were scheduled to conduct a military briefing at a nearby army camp.

Thousands of residents have fled away from the city after gunfights erupted since Tuesday between the military troops and combined members of the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf.

Traffic was reported in a standstill especially in the city’s exit points due to evacuation of locals.

About 800 individuals who refused to leave the city have taken shelter in the capitol grounds, the ARMM Heart said.

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