Pro-ISIS Terrorists Flee Primary School, All Hostages Unharmed: Army

The gunmen occupied a grade school building as they clashed with government forces, said Chief Inspector Realan Mamon, the police chief of Pigcawayan township, where Malagakit is located.

Australian military spy planes will start flying missions over the southern Philippines to help in the fight against Islamic militants terrorizing the area, the government said Friday, June 23.

"We are prioritizing the areas that are built up or heavily built up which means to say those that are constructed well and can withstand attacks and bombardments and potentially may have basement areas or hidden areas underneath that can protect them from any kind of assault from the air", Abella said.

-Gen. Restituto Padilla, speaking for the military, said at a news conference.

They are a leader of the Abu Sayyaf group, Isnilon Hapilon, who was proclaimed by Islamic State past year as its "emir" of Southeast Asia, and Abdullah Maute, whose followers accounted for a large number of the estimated 400-500 fighters who overran parts of Marawi, killing Christians and taking dozens of civilians hostage.

He said Malaysians, Indonesians, Singaporeans and "other foreign fighters" were in Marawi.

"It's over ... but we're also on guard because they might carry out other attacks", said Padilla.

Officials estimate 300 to 500 people are still trapped inside Marawi, fearful of militants accused of using civilians as human shields as much as of government airstrikes and starvation.

Both Islamist rebels and government security forces with state-backed militias have attacked schools, or have used them as barracks and outposts.

The group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for a series of military offensives in North Cotabato and nearby Maguindanao province. "We are still verifying if they have not been released", he said.

Both Pigcawayan and Marawi are on the large southern island of Mindanao.

Philippine troops killed at least four of the fighters, who belong to an armed group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

The Australian government signified to have its P-3 Orion surveillance airfcraft fly over Mindanao to provide Filipino troops real-time information so they can effectively fight rising terrorists in the region.

The militant uprising in Marawi prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law across the Mindanao region last month.

The Philippines accepted the offer of two AP-3C Orion aircraft for reconnaissance to pinpoint locations of Maute group fighters holed up for a fifth week in Marawi, a town the rebels have declared as their own Islamic territory. Noting the urban landscape in Marawi, which has been largely evacuated, he suggested, "you don't invade it with men, you really crush it with bombs", according to the Philippine Inquirer.

Duterte placed the entire Mindanao under a 60-day martial rule on May 23, after the ISIS-linked terror groups Maute and Abu Sayyaf laid siege to the predominantly Muslim City of about 200,000.

  • Leroy Wright