Dozens flee IS aligned gunmen in war-torn Philippine city

Dozens flee IS aligned gunmen in war-torn Philippine city
2 min read
03 June, 2017
Dozens of people ran to freedom through a terrifying gauntlet of military airstrikes and gunmen on Saturday, nearly two weeks after being trapped in a deadly battle.
Dozens of people ran to freedom through a terrifying gauntlet of military airstrikes and gunmen on Saturday, nearly two weeks after being trapped in a deadly battle for a Philippine city.

The group of 38 said they ran from their hiding place in a part of Marawi city controlled by self-styled Islamic State group gunmen as soldiers seized a key bridge in the area to give the civilians safe passage.

Hundreds of gunmen rampaged through the city of 200,000, the Islamic capital of the mainly Catholic Philippines, on May 23 after government forces attempted to arrest their leader, Isnilon Hapilon.

Up to 50 gunmen continued to control downtown Marawi nearly two weeks later with at least 15 hostages including a Catholic priest, with some being used as human shields, the military said.

As many as 2,000 people also remained trapped in desperate conditions in these areas, the government said, likely without food and water and with some injured or ailing as security forces mount a relentless assault.

The military has said it is firing artillery and rockets from the air, as well as dropping conventional bombs, as ground forces in armoured vehicles fight their way in dodging sniper fire, improvised explosives and anti-tank rockets.

At least 70 people were rescued on Saturday as intense fighting continued, including 23 teachers from Dansalan College, who were with a year-old baby, seven other children, and seven other adults.

The gunmen set alight the college on the first day of the fighting, and the teachers said bombs and fires also destroyed many of the houses around the house where they hid.

Dansalan college is run by the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church, and all the teachers were Christians.