World

Militants stock up for siege

MARAWI CITY: Islamist militants holed up in a southern Philippines town stocked weapons and food in mosques, tunnels and basements to prepare for a long siege, officials said yesterday as the battle for control of Marawi City came to the end of its second week.

Their comments underlined the level of organisation among fighters linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), whose ranks of several hundred included foreigners from Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya and Morocco.

The battle for Marawi City has raised concerns that the ultra-radical ISIS is building a South-east Asia base on the island of Mindanao.

Parrying questions on why the fighters had been able to resist an onslaught from the Philippines army for so long, senior officers said the main problem was that 500-600 civilians were still trapped in the urban heart of the town.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday that Marawi City would be fully liberated within three days but yesterday, officials were more circumspect on the timing and gave conflicting estimates of how many combatants were holding out. - REUTERS

terrorismPhilippinesreligion