Islamic State-backed gunmen who laid siege to the southern Philippine city of Marawi have beheaded four civilian hostages, the military said Monday, citing witnesses.
The military said civilians who had been extricated from the war zone during the weekend told officials that four civilians were beheaded by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf group.
“This puts the total number of civilians killed by the terrorists at 30,” a military official who requested anonymity told BenarNews.
He said Teresito Suganob, a Catholic priest taken hostage by the militants, had been seen alive as of last Friday, weeks after he went on air apparently under duress and appealed on the government to stop its airstrikes on rebel-held areas in Marawi.
Separately, a BenarNews source who had met with the gunmen in a mission sanctioned by security officials during the weekend said that one of the militant leaders, Abdullah Maute, told him that Suganob was alive, but would only be freed in exchange for the release of his parents.
Suganob and some church workers were taken by the Maute-led gunmen when the violence broke out on May 23.
In his earlier videotaped message, Suganob said that about 200 other civilians, including some children, were being held by the militants.
Full story: BenarNews
Jeoffrey Maitem, Froilan Gallardo and Mark Navales
Marawi, Philippines. Felipe Villamor contributed to this report in Manila.
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