While ISIS continues to flex its muscles worldwide, new attention is being focused on ongoing battles between government forces and ISIS-linked militants in the Philippines. An apparent hostage video has just emerged from there – one week after the violence began – showing a Catholic priest pleading for his life, and the lives of what may be hundreds of others.
Colleagues of Father Teresito Suganob have confirmed his identity after watching the video that recently hit the internet. “We want to live another day, we want to live another month,” Suganob says in a message to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
In the video, Suganob pleads with Duterte to withdraw government forces from the city of Marawi, where troops have been clashing with unexpectedly formidable ISIS-linked militants since last week. Suganob suggests he is being held hostage along with more than 200 others, including children, although that figure has yet to be confirmed.
More than 100 people reportedly have been killed, including an estimated two dozen civilians, since the fighting began last Tuesday. The situation on the ground is said to be so tense that civilians are reportedly being asked by the government to wear white to distinguish themselves from combatants.
The violence erupted after Isnilon Hapilon, the man said to be at the helm of ISIS operations in the area, slipped through the hands of government forces during an ultimately unsuccessful raid by the Army.