ISIS militants in the besieged town of Marawi have gone a blasphemous rampage, destroying religious artifacts in a church by smashing statues and setting fire to a church building in footage purportedly filmed in the southern Philippines.
The jihadis joyfully knock down crucifixes, stamp on posters of Pope Francis and destroy effigies in the church, believed to be located in the city of Marawi, southern Philippines.
The video was first published by ISIS‘s Amaq News Agency.
Philippine soldiers are battling to recapture the town of Marawi from the militants, and clashes have already left at least 178 dead, including 20 civilians.
At least 120 militants and 38 soldiers and policemen are also believed to have been killed.
On Sunday a four hour ceasefire was supposed to give civilians a chance to evacuate from the city, but gunfire broke out an hour into it.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said that he will not negotiate with militants aligned with the Islamic State group, and that he has ordered troops to kill the gunmen even if they slaughter the hostages.
The siege of the lakeside city has dragged on for nearly two weeks. Troops have battled to regain control of most of the lakeside city, but the militants are still holding out in pockets.
It is believed that the jihadists maybe holding many hostages, including a Catholic priest.
The Rev. Teresito Suganob, said in a video that he and about 200 other captives, including children, were being held by the militants.
Suganob apparently spoke under pressure in the video, which recently appeared online.
On May 23, ISIS-inspired militants rampaged across the city, burning some buildings and occupying others as they battled troops backed by airstrikes and artillery fire.
Duterte known for his ruthless approach to fighting problems, in a speech at an air base at Lapu-Lapu said,: ‘I was asked if I could negotiate. I’m telling you now, you can kill all those you’re holding now, but I won’t talk to you.
‘My order really is to shoot you and to shoot you dead.’
Nevertheless, troops have not taken to indiscriminately bombing at the militants with newly acquired fighter jets and ending the urban insurrection in a day because the government has to assure the safety of civilians trapped in the fighting.
Marawi officials estimate that about 2,000 residents remained trapped in their houses and many have run out of food and water.
The Marawi siege followed an unsuccessful May 23 army raid that attempted to capture a top terror suspect, Isnilon Hapilon, who has been designated by the Islamic State group as its leader in Southeast Asia.
The appointed Jihadist leader, who was wounded in an airstrike in a nearby town in January, was reportedly wounded anew in the foot by gunfire but escaped. Gunmen loyal to him swept through the city of 200,000 people, torching buildings and taking hostages. Up to 90 percent of Marawi’s people have fled to safety.
Duterte has declared martial law across the southern third of the Philippines to deal with the most serious crisis of his year-old presidency.