Thursday 18 January 2018

Isil-inspired teenage fighters force 50,000 to flee violence in Filipino city

Filipino police special forces clear a street of armed militants in Marawi city, southern Philippines. Photo: Jes Aznar/Getty Images
Filipino police special forces clear a street of armed militants in Marawi city, southern Philippines. Photo: Jes Aznar/Getty Images

Nicola Smith Taipei

Teenage gunmen have been fighting with Islamist militants besieging the southern Philippine city of Marawi, fleeing witnesses have claimed.

More than 50,000 people have escaped and at least 19 civilians are among almost 100 killed since militias affiliated with Isil overran the Muslim-majority city of 200,000 last week.

That prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to send in the military. After unleashing helicopters and heavy artillery, Philippine forces said yesterday they now controlled most of the city, with only small pockets being held by militants.

The Islamist fighters have shown unexpected strength, despite evacuees describing several as young teenagers whose commanders were in their early twenties. "They are just barely out of teenage life. And they take command from boys in their early to mid-twenties," a government employee told local media.

On Sunday the bodies of eight civilians who had been shot dead were recovered from a ravine.

A Marawi police officer claimed they had been killed when they could not quote the Koran. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent

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