ISIS-linked militants attack Philippines village, take hostages
Manila [Philippines], June 21 (ANI): Several residents have been taken hostage and used as human shields after armed terrorists stormed a village in the Cotabato province of the Philippines, according to local police.
Government troops are now engaged in fierce battle with Members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) after the terrorists attacked the village of Malagakit in Pigcawayan town in North Cotabato and took civilians as hostages. The military believes the BIFF is supporting the Maute and other terror groups in an attempt to set up an ISIS caliphate in Mindanao which is under martial law imposed by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.
Local government officials said 100 families were evacuated during the operation.
Gunmen stormed a school after a "failed attempt" to attack a militia outpost in Barangay Malagakit at dawn on Wednesday, the military and police said.
The 34th Infantry Battalion engaged the rebels in a firefight, taking extra caution as the enemy used civilians as so-called human shields, CNN quoted Armed Forces spokesman Restituto Padilla as saying.
Padilla said the BIFF "have withdrawn from the area. The school area is again safe."
"Fortunately, the attack happened before the students arrived at the school," Padilla said.
He said authorities are checking if the rebels have released five civilians they held hostage.
Pigcawayan is 190 km south of Marawi City, where BIFF militants and fighters linked to ISIS have been holed up and fighting the Philippines military since May 23. (ANI)