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Islamic militants attack cathedral on Mindanao, seize 15 hostages

May 24, 2017

Tensions have sharply escalated on the island of Mindanao, in the Philippines, as Islamic militants attacked the cathedral in the city of Marawi, seizing 15 hostages and demolishing the building.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the province, after the Islamic militant group Maute occupied Marawi. Duterte said that he “might declare martial law throughout the country to protect the people.”

Islamic separatists have been active for years in Mindanao, and Marawi is a predominantly Muslim city. Tensions there exploded with the attack by Maute on schools and prisons. The militants then entered the cathedral, seizing the worshippers who were praying there. Next they entered the bishop’s residence, and took the vicar general of the diocese, Father Sogaun Dewatering, as a hostage. Both the cathedral and the bishop’s residence were then torched.

“The terrorists have occupied the city,” reported Marawi’s Bishop Edwin De la Pena. The bishop—who was visiting a parish outside the city when the attack occurred—said: “People are terrified and locked in their houses. We are waiting for the army’s reaction.” The bishop expressed his fear that the army, which is now poised outside the city, might bomb Marawi, inevitably causing civilian casualties.

 
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