Islamic State-affiliated fighters in the Philippines tied up and executed nine Christian at a checkpoint in the southern Philippines city of Marawi on Wednesday. The jihadis reportedly forced the Christian, who were fleeing the city, off their truck and identified them as Christians before murdering them.
The militants reportedly tied their hands together and shot them in the head. They left the bodies lying in the grass.
The terrorists killed 19 civilians during street fighting to take Marawi, including three women and a child whose bodies were found near a hospital.
Government officials say this brings the total death toll since the militants began their uprising on Tuesday to at least 85.
“These are civilians, women. These terrorists are anti-people. We found their bodies while conducting rescue operations [on Saturday],” spokesperson for the army Lieutenant Colonel Jo-ar Herrera told media.
The militants began an uprising in Marawi City on Tuesday after a botched raid by the army to kill Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of Abu Sayyaf (one of the terrorist groups involved in the insurgency).
The Philippines has deployed at least 100 US-trained special forces in the operation to retake the city. Armored tanks, helicopters, artillery and air strikes have been used in support.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duturte declared martial law on the southern island of Mindanao, where Marawi is located. Rebel groups there have long sought autonomy and fighting has been on-going for decades.
Duturte has promised to crush the incipient rebellion, brutally if necessary, and has pledged to extent martial law to the entire country if he deems it necessary.
In a speech explaining the new policy on Friday, he told his soldiers, “You can arrest any person, search any house.”
His comments have alarmed many who are concerned about possible abuses.
“I alone will be responsible,” Duturte responded. “I will go to jail for you. If you happen to have raped three women, I will own up to it.”
The rape comment was reported as a joke, but it worried women’s rights activists.