Manila, May 24: The Maute group of Philippines militants, which occupied and torched a Roman Catholic church, a jail and two schools in Marawi city of Mindao island, has abducted residents, including a priest and a college professor, the media reported on Wednesday.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday placed Mindao and nearby island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Taw-Tawi under martial law, and vowed to be “harsh” in dealing with the local militant group, Xinhua news agency reported. The militants took priest Teresito Soganub, professor Maria Luisa Coli, parish secretary Wendelyn Mayormita, two working students and some parishioners on Tuesday, said bishop Edwin dela Pe of Marawi Prelature.
“We have not heard anything about them,” Dela Pe said, adding more people might have been kidpped. Media reports also said that many residents have fled the city. A senior military official has claimed to have killed or wounded an undetermined number of militants. However, he said the military is still determining the exact number of casualties.
Two army soldiers and a policeman have been killed and 12 wounded in the fighting that erupted around 2 p.m. on Tuesday. The militants continued to occupy some sections of Marawi, an Islamic city in Lao del Sur, he said. The Maute group was formed by the Maute family led by brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute, former members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The group has declared loyalty to the Islamic State militant group.
But the military downplays the group, saying it is a bunch of crimils that carry out several bombings and kidppings in the Mindao region. The group has attacked army troops and beheaded their kidp victims. They are also notorious for raiding jails in the provinces to free their detained comrades. (IANS)