DAVAO CITY (the Philippines) – Islamic State-inspired gunmen briefly seized a village in southern Philippines early on Wednesday, and took hostages as human shields while fleeing, police said, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.
Government troops have been sent to Pigcawayan town, in Mindanao’s North Cotabato province to repel dozens of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) gunmen who occupied Malagakit village, according to Chief Inspector Realan Mamon, the town police chief.
A military official said the attackers also snatched five residents whom they used as human shields as they fled.
The police official told a local radio that the gunmen stormed the farming village at around 5:00 a.m. local time, and that an unknown number of civilians have been trapped in the fighting.
The BIFF, which had split from the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) over ideological differences, has been tagged by security forces as one of the insurgent groups in the Philippines that pledged allegiance to the ultra-radical global terror group.
Captain Arvin Encinas, a regional army spokesperson, said they were still validating reports that among those held hostage by the gunmen were students from a local primary school.
Some BIFF fighters were believed to have slipped to Marawi City, some 300 km from its base in the marshland areas of central Mindanao, and joined other radical groups in the fight against security forces.
The fightings in Marawi City, which has been going on for nearly a month now, has killed nearly 400 people and displaced over 200,000. – BERNAMA