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Philippines: Thousands flee as army fights Islamist rebels

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By Euronews
Philippines: Thousands flee as army fights Islamist rebels

Tens of thousands of people have fled the besieged Philippine city of Marawi, amid fierce clashes between government forces and Islamist militants.

Foreign fighters are said to be among the extremists who have taken over the southern city.

Officials say the rebels are trying to win recognition from ISIL and join its self-proclaimed caliphate.

One displaced man, Saddat Linog, said that his house was destroyed in the fighting and that his children fear for their lives.

“I was shot at from a helicopter as I was making my way home,” he said.

“Fortunately, I avoided being hit. I went to our house and knocked on the door. No one answered so I thought they had been killed. Then my wife called, asking why our house was being targeted.”

At least 61 militants were killed and 15 security forces as of Saturday, according to the army.

But civilians are also among the dead. On Sunday, at least eight bodies were found in a ditch outside the city on Mindanao island where President Duterte has imposed martial law.

Most had been shot in the head. Some had their hands tied behind their backs.

Police said they were carpenters pulled off an evacuation convoy by militants because they were unable to cite verses from the Koran.

with Reuters