A priest and churchgoers have been abducted by a group of Islamic militants inspired by ISIS in the Philippines. The militants from the group known as Maute have threatened to kill the hostages if government forces do not withdraw. This kidnapping is a direct targeting of Christianity by Muslim militants. The conflict, which has lasted for hours in Marawi on Mindanao island and is still ongoing, occurred after government forces tried to arrest a militant Islamic leader. Gunfire broke out, and Maute called on another Islamic militant group known as Abu Sayyaf to reinforce them. The city is on lockdown. The churchgoers and the priest are the only known hostages taken in the conflict so far. The militants have burned the Catholic church, a jail, two schools, and set up checkpoints in the streets.
5/24/2017 Philippines (Al Jazeera) – A priest and several churchgoers have been taken hostage by gunmen in Marawi city, on the island of Mindanao in southern Philippines, as thousands of residents fled ongoing unrest that prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the region.
The violence erupted on Tuesday after the army raided the hideout of Isnilon Hapilon, a commander of the Abu Sayyaf group, which has pledged allegiance to ISIL. Abu Sayyaf fighters called for reinforcements from an allied group, the Maute, and dozens of gunmen managed to enter Marawi, home to about 200,000 people.
Clashes between security forces and about 100 fighters ensued, leaving at least three members of the security forces dead. The attackers reportedly burned a Catholic church, the city jail, and two schools, as well as occupied the main streets and two bridges leading to the city, located some 816km south of the capital, Manila.