A breakaway jihadist group operating on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao has reportedly taken hostages at a school in a village of Cotabato province.
The ISIS-linked Salafist group called Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) are the apparent culprits.
The Manila Bulletin reports that among the hostages are six children.
Local police Chief Inspector Realan Mamon has said,
“We can confirm that they occupied a school and there were civilians trapped. We are in the process of determining how many were trapped and their identities”.
Russian readers will remember when Salafist terrorists held children hostage at a school in the North Ossetian city of Beslan in 2004. The incident resulted in terrorists massacring many of their child hostages.
Philippine armed forces and police are working to secure the safe release of the adult and child hostages.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte who prior to the outbreak of ISIS violence attempted to make peace with local Muslim armed groups has warned that if the army does not stop the threat from growing, a sectarian civil war could break out. Duterte went on to warm of the dangers of this saying,
“That would be a mess because the Christians in Mindanao will also arm themselves. We cannot allow that because if civilians also arm themselves, it will be a civil war”.
The Philippine President continued,
“If I didn’t declare martial law, we would face layers of problems that we might not be able to solve. Those who question martial law think that the problem is limited only here,” he said.
I really did not want to have martial law. I was only forced to do it because if I didn’t, the mess in Mindanao would spread. We will then have a hard time”.