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Maranao traditional, religious leaders ask AFP, MG to spare mosques

Iligan City, Philippines
June 16, 2017

Please spare the mosques! This is what Maranao prominent traditional leaders, Imams, and Ulama appealed to the Maute and Abu Sayyaf armed groups to spare Muslim religious houses of worship or mosques from being destroyed in the war-torn Islamic city of Marawi.

The traditional and religious leaders also called on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to spare Mosques from destruction as the fight between troopers and the lawless armed groups are entering on its third week.

In a joint press conference, the Marawi Sultanate League, the Marawi Council of Imams and the Ulama appealed to the military not to bombard the mosques which are being reportedly used as shelter by the terrorists.

The military told the media that as it was making headway in the town, it was proceeding carefully so as not to destroy mosques where some of the militants had taken up positions.

MSL chair Sultan Nasser D. Sampaco said the mosque is the pillar of the Maranao identity and by destroying it is destroying that identity and thus the Maranaos in general.

Marawi City Administrator Sultan Camid Gandamra who is also senior adviser of the MSL challenged the armed groups to fight in areas which are far from buildings in the downtown or in open space so that mosques and other buildings are not affected.

Meanwhile, it was learned at least 200 militants are holed up in a corner of the town.

Authorities estimated 500 to 1,000 civilians to be trapped there, some being held as human shields, while others are hiding in their homes with no access to running water, electricity or food.

The military said it was making headway in the town but was proceeding carefully so as not to destroy mosques where some of the militants had taken up positions.

"We give premium to the mosques, because this is very symbolic to our Muslim brothers," Herrera said.

The Philippines is majority Christian, but Mindanao has a significant population of Muslims and Marawi City is overwhelmingly Muslim.

The military has said it is aiming to end the siege by Monday, the Philippines' independence day. (TNRS)

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