Daesh-linked militants holding parts of a Philippine city are killing civilians who try to flee while using others as orderlies and cooks, authorities said Tuesday after the gunmen boasted of executions.
There are up to 1,000 people still trapped in the parts of Marawi city that the militants control, the government said, three weeks after fighting erupted with gunmen going on a rampage and flying black flags of the Daesh group.
The militants have defied a US-backed military onslaught, which has seen relentless bombing of the residential areas of Marawi where they are holed up. Authorities say 400 gunmen are estimated to be still there and to be using civilians as slaves.
“Based on the revelations of the trapped civilians we have recovered (rescued), they are being used as orderlies to cook their food, to carry their munitions,” local military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jo-ar Herrera told reporters.
At least 26 civilians, 58 police or soldiers and 202 militants have been killed, according to the government.
Daesh also released a video on Monday via its Amaq propaganda news agency which it said showed extremists shooting six Christians in Marawi, according to the US-based SITE monitoring service.
A voiceover suggested further executions had taken place off-camera, SITE reported.
There were tearful scenes in Marawi on Tuesday morning after five Muslim policemen and five Christian construction workers sprinted about two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the militant-controlled areas to safety.
Marawi is the Islamic capital of the mainly Catholic Philippines.
It is largely abandoned now, with about 250,000 people having fled the city and nearby areas.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the southern Philippines, home to 20 million people, shortly after the fighting erupted to quell what he said was an Daesh bid to carve out its own territory there.