Bishop returns to his damaged Cathedral for the first time since Marawi siege

ICC Note: Bishop Edwin de la Peña returned to his cathedral in Marawi city for the first time since May 23, 2017, when IS-linked militants attacked and burned his church while taking several staff and worshippers hostage. More than 1,100 were killed in the five-month long armed conflict, and Christians who were taken hostage were physically abused, made to do forced labor, used as sex slaves or human shields and forced to make bombs and fight the military. The government recaptured the city last Oct, but the city’s road to recovery has just begun. 

01/11/2018 Philippines (Crux) – For the first time since May 23, 2017, Bishop Edwin de la Peña on Thursday prayed inside his cathedral in Marawi City, located in the southern Philippines.

That day, militants linked with the Islamic State attacked St. Mary’s Cathedral, setting it on fire and taking several staff members and worshippers hostage.

The same day, several other buildings in the city were attacked, including a Protestant school and the city’s jail.

Gunmen also stormed the bishop’s residence, but he wasn’t found.

This incident was the opening salvo of the Battle of Marawi, and for the next five months, government troops battled the Islamic militants to take back control of the city.

More than 1,100 were killed, including more than 900 Filipino and foreign militants, and nearly 500,000 people were displaced by the fighting.

According to a report by Amnesty International, militants took numerous civilian hostages, a majority of them Christians who were physically abused, made to do forced labor, used as sex slaves or human shields and forced to make bombs and fight the military.

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