Armed with guns and rocks, villagers defend themselves from Maute

Reuters

Posted at Jun 01 2017 11:23 PM

While more than 100 are thought to have died in the ongoing conflict in Marawi City in the southern Philippines, brave residents in one village fought courageously to prevent terrorists from seizing their community.

Street by street, Philippine security forces are liberating Marawi from Maute group terrorists after the conflict broke out on May 23. The military believes there are now only about 30 extremists remaining, most of whom are concentrated in the city's downtown area.

Until they are disarmed there is no telling the true extent of the damage and fatalities the crisis has caused. An earlier video showed a Catholic priest who was believed to be held hostage, begging the government to stop hunting the militants. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed willingness to negotiate, but the military says they have received no instructions to do so.

"We have not received that detail. Our mandate is to continuously eliminate and destroy the local terrorist group. Our mandate right now is to save the civilians trapped in this hostile area," said Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesman of the Philippine Army's 1st Infantry Division.

There is one village, however, that didn't need rescuing, at least according to local residents. They say there was no way they were going to allow themselves to be terrorized by the militants.

Residents say that last Wednesday, around five fighters aligned to the Islamic State came to the village on the day after they took over Marawi City. They attempted to blow up a bridge, but were unsuccessful against the resolve of the spirited locals.

"We chanted Allah hu Akbar louder than they could. And then we fired at them. Those without arms threw rocks at them," recalled one of the villagers.

Military forces are now guarding the village, but its residents say they believe that with enough courage, the people of Marawi could have more widely defended their city, especially as many households have guns.