Gunmen raid school in southern Philippines, take hostages

June 21, 2017 6:07 am

Members of the Philippine police special action force ride in an army truck on their way to the frontline in Marawi, on the southern island of Mindanao, June 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Gunmen have raided and taken hostages at a school in a town in the southern Philippines, according to police and officials.
Early on Wednesday, Chief Inspector Realan Mamon said the militants had entered the school in the town of Pigcawayan and taken a number of students hostage.
According to a police report, some 300 armed men, among them members of at least one group affiliated to Daesh, have entered the school.
“We can confirm that they occupied a school and there were civilians trapped. We are in the process of determining how many were trapped and their identities,” Mamon said.
The military is engaged in a gun battle with the militants.
Pigcawayan is located in the North Cotabato Province and is located some 120 kilometers south of Marawi City, where terrorist groups allied to Daesh have been engaged in clashes with the Philippines’ military for over a month.
Pigcawayan Mayor Eliseo Garcesa said officials were still seeking information whether any casualties had occurred.
The developments comes a day after the Philippine military intensified its offensive against the militants in Marawi City.
“We are aiming to clear Marawi by the end of Ramadan,” said military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, explaining, however, that that was not a strict deadline.
Philippine troops are fighting for a fifth week to dislodge at least 200 militants holed up in Marawi since last month. As of Tuesday, some 258 militants, 65 security forces and 26 civilians had been killed in the city, according to the military.
An estimated 500 to 1,000 civilians are trapped in the city, some of them are being used as human shields.
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