Please pray for the people of Marawi, southern Philippines. Yesterday afternoon, extremists from the Maute Group descended upon the city, firing gunshots and putting up ISIS flags. Three fires broke out, catching fire a city jail, a Christian school and a chapel. It is unconfirmed whether it was set by the extremists or was simply a result of the fighting.
On the ground, the people are asking for prayers. The residents are threatened. They say homes are being trespassed, and that women not in hijabs are being taken away. The black flags are perched on top of a police car and a hospital. Social media screams with pleas for help, screenshots of texts of relatives on lockdown. One post says people must recite the shahada when asked, else be killed.
The fighting is said to spring from a hunt for Isnilon Hapilon, local Abu Sayaff leader tagged as the head of ISIS in the Philippines. Hapilon has not been caught.
Philippines’ President Duterte declared Martial Law in the whole southern Philippines for 60 days. He cut meetings in Russia short to deal with the crisis. The military says things are in control now, and denies that ISIS was involved, saying the local Maute Group was wreaking havoc only to get foreign attention.