Army says battle for Philippine city to end soon, 1,000 dead

Philippine troops have missed previous deadlines to flush out the militants whom authorities said intended to establish a local Daesh caliphate. (AFP)
Updated 16 October 2017
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Army says battle for Philippine city to end soon, 1,000 dead

MARAWI: Philippine troops Sunday bombed militants loyal to the Daesh group who have held out for over four months in a southern city and the military said the conflict would be over “very soon.”
The army previously set a target of Sunday to end the fighting in Marawi, which it said has killed more than 1,000 people. Troops have missed previous deadlines to flush out the militants whom authorities said intended to establish a local Daesh caliphate.
On Sunday FA-50 fighter jets flew over Marawi as soldiers fought the militants house-to-house in an area which has now shrunk to about five acres (two hectares), a military spokesman said.
“We are hoping that we will end this Marawi siege very soon,” Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of the task force battling the militants, told reporters.
Pro-Daesh gunmen occupied parts of Marawi, the Islamic capital of the mainly Catholic Philippines, on May 23.
Since then 822 militants, 162 government forces and 47 civilians have been killed, Brawner said.
The insurgents have withstood a relentless US-backed bombing campaign and intense ground battles with troops that have left large parts of Marawi resembling devastated cities in war-torn Syria and Iraq.
Military commanders last week set a target of October 15 to end the fighting and President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said the battle was “almost over.”
Twenty soldiers were wounded on Saturday in a sign troops were pushing hard to end the battle, Brawner said.
He said 40 militants remained in the conflict area including leaders Isnilon Hapilon, who is on America’s list of most wanted terrorists with a $5 million bounty, and Omarkhayam Maute, whose group had pledged allegiance to Daesh.
There were also 100 civilians in the zone including hostages and families of the militants, he added.
“Women and children are now forced to fight together with the Maute-ISIS fighters. These are desperate measures the Maute-ISIS are doing. This is their last defensive stand,” Brawner said.
Duterte on Thursday warned against celebrating the eventual liberation of Marawi, citing the deaths and devastation there.
“When we leave Marawi, we go quietly. We do not want to show any kind of celebration or happiness,” he said.


British aid worker, Nigerian man shot dead at resort, 4 tourists abducted

British woman Faye Mooney killed by kidnappers in Nigeria. (Social media)
Updated 23 min 50 sec ago
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British aid worker, Nigerian man shot dead at resort, 4 tourists abducted

  • Kidnapping in Nigeria’s oil-rich south, has long been a security challenge, where wealthy locals and expatriate workers are often abducted
  • The conflict has increasingly taken on ethnic and religious dimensions in the region, with the Fulani Muslim herders in conflict with Christian Adara farmers in Kajuru

KANO, Nigeria: Two people including a British aid worker have been shot dead and four tourists abducted in an attack by armed gunmen on a holiday resort in northwestern Nigeria, police said on Sunday.
Police and aid agency Mercy Corps named the dead woman as Faye Mooney.
“Faye was a dedicated and passionate communications and learning specialist,” Chief executive Neal Keny-Guyer said in a statement posted on social media, adding that colleagues were “utterly heartbroken.”
Mooney had “worked with Mercy Corps for almost two years, devoting her time to making a difference in Nigeria,” Keny-Guyer added.
Gunmen stormed the Kajuru Castle resort, 60 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of Kaduna City at 11.40 p.m. (2240 GMT) on Friday, Kaduna state police spokesman Yakubu Sabo told reporters.
The Briton “was gunned down from the hill by the kidnappers who tried to gain entrance into the castle but failed,” Sabo said.
“They took away about five other locals but one person escaped,” he said.
A Nigerian man believed by local residents in Kajuru to be Mooney’s partner was also killed in the attack on the resort where a group of 13 tourists had arrived from Lagos, southwest Nigeria the police spokesman said.
In Kaduna and the wider northwest region, kidnapping for ransom has become an increasingly rampant, particularly on the road to the capital, Abuja, where armed attacks have thrived.
Kidnapping in Nigeria’s oil-rich south, has long been a security challenge, where wealthy locals and expatriate workers are often abducted.
Yet the problem has escalated in northern areas too, like Kaduna where criminal gangs made up of former cattle rustlers have been pushed into kidnapping after military crackdowns on cattle theft.
Kajuru is also flash point in the deadly conflict over increasingly limited land resources in Africa’s most populous country, between herders and farmers, predominantly across central and northern Nigeria.
The conflict has increasingly taken on ethnic and religious dimensions in the region, with the Fulani Muslim herders in conflict with Christian Adara farmers in Kajuru.
Tourists are rarely affected by the herder-farmer violence and Kajuru Castle resort has attracted many foreign and local visitors.
Yet police have struggled to thwart kidnappers in the region. The latest attack comes in a resort in northern Nigeria, particularly popular among foreign and well-to-do local tourists.
In January four western tourists — two Americans and two Canadians — were also abducted in Kaduna by gunmen in an ambush in which two of their police escorts were killed.
Earlier in April, recently re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari, ordered his most senior security chiefs to curb kidnapping in the region.