Military accuses ISIS militants of massive looting in Marawi
MARAWI CITY – The Philippine military on Tuesday accused local ISIS militants of massive looting in Marawi after citing alleged reports by civilians who escaped from the besieged city where fighting is still raging between security forces and the jihadist group.
Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the militants allegedly used their hostages in ransacking houses and stealing as much as P500 million in cash and jewelries.
She said the information came from 7 hostages who escaped last month and another who managed to flee recently from Marawi. “All these hostages revealed that they were forced to convert to Islam or be killed. According to them, they were initially tasked to loot and steal from houses and establishments for ammunition, firearms, cash, gold and jewelries.”
“They estimate that their group alone was able to loot or steal at least P500 million in cash not to include other items they have taken from households and business establishments. They believe that the amount of cash and valuable items looted could be worth more as there were several other groups being forced by terrorists to loot and steal for them,” Petinglay said, adding, local criminal gangs also joined in the looting.
Petinglay said the hostages were forced to loot and steal under duress and upon instruction and supervision of Maute and Abu Sayyaf rebels and local criminal gangs that joined the Mautes after being promised monetary rewards by the Daesh-inspired group.
She said militants ordered their hostages to start looting as early as 7 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon, returning only by noontime for lunch. And that all war loot is being deposited at a mosque.
“The rescued individuals also revealed that they followed a daily routine looting-stealing schedule: morning 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and return for lunch and then back to looting-stealing after lunch up to 3 p.m. and then back to their holding place. The looted items were brought to a central storage in a mosque and received by designated Maute members who were keeping a list for accounting,” she said.
But it was unknown why none of the hostages escaped when they had the chance since nobody was guarding them during their looting. But these military reports came out only days after photographs of militants surfaced on social media showing them resting on a bed and couch and taking pictures from their cell phones while inside a house in Marawi.
Several Muslims in Marawi displaced by the fighting also accused security forces of looting after troops barged into their houses and allegedly stole jewelries and money, an allegation strongly denied by the military. Militants occupied the city on May 23 in a failed attempt to carve out a strict Islamic State province in Marawi. (Mindanao Examiner)
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