Philippines says pro-Daesh group withdraws from school

As the battle for Marawi City on Mindanao island enters its fifth week, pro-Daesh militants stormed a school in the south of the island and briefly held people there captive. There were no reports of casualties.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Debris and smoke from a government air strike against insurgents from the Maute group, in Marawi City, Philippines, June 20, 2017.

A hostage drama that unfolded at a primary school in the southern Philippines on Wednesday has been resolved, a military spokesperson said, and the militants who held people captive withdrew with no reports of casualties.

A police report said about 300 armed men, among them members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), stormed the school on Mindanao island early on Wednesday.

The incident came as fighting between government troops and pro-Daesh Maute group militants in Marawi City, also on Mindanao, enters its fifth week.

No students were taken hostage at the school in Pigcawayan town in North Cotabato province on the island, said Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, discounting earlier reports that some children were being held.

"It's already resolved," he said.

"They've withdrawn; they are no longer there. The school area is again safe."

The military was investigating whether five civilians were still being held by the militants, Padilla said.

Government says no connection to Marawi City

Padilla said the incident at Pigcawayan was not related to the fighting in Marawi City.

"This has come from a group that has long committed harassments," he said.

Pigcawayan is 190 km south of Marawi City, where BIFF militants, along with fighters from other pro-Daesh groups, have been holed up and fighting the Philippine military for more than a month.

TRTWorld and agencies