An ISIS-linked Islamist group has reportedly overrun significant sections of the city of Marawi, located on the southern island of Mindanao in The Philippines, according to Conflict News and other sources.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in the entire Mindanao area amid the ongoing attack in Marawi. President Duterte will cut short his trip to Russia due to the Marawi situation.
According to social media reports, gunfire first began around 2 PM local time when government troops reportedly attempted to raid a number of “high value” targets from the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf group.
Both of these are Islamic groups that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) and are responsible for multiple deadly attacks in the past.
These raids were apparently not successful and were repulsed by fighters from the Maute Group – also known as the Islamic State of Lanao. Throughout the afternoon, Maute fighters (possibly with outside reinforcement) managed to take control of significant positions of the city.
ISIS flags were flown over several prominent buildings, and photos on social media showed significant numbers of gunmen moving through Marawi. Videos posted online recorded the sound of fierce firefights in the city’s western districts.
As night fell the Muslims took over a hospital and laid siege to Marawi’s prison – it is unclear at this stage if the installation has fallen or not, but fires have been reported.
Police and government troops continued to engage the Muslims however local reports seemed to suggest they were not successful.
The city’s mayor took the extraordinary step of calling for military reinforcements to help stabilize the situation.
By 10PM local time significant fires raged within the city including at the prison, the Dasalan College, and Saint Mary’s Church. Residents also reported Muslims setting up roadblocks to fortify sections of the city.