Isis-linked Maute Rebels Hide in Tunnels and Mosques as Military Prepares for Long Siege

Islamist militants have dug tunnels and stockpiled food in preparation for a long siege in Marawi City, the Philippine Army has claimed.

Armed fighters from the Maute Group have holed up in mosques, which as religious buildings are protected under the Hague Convention Attack on Cultural Property, meaning they cannot be bombed or attacked.

The army estimates that between 80 - 200 militants are left in the city, mostly stationed in basements and tunnels. This morning, members of the Philippine Marines found 79m Philippines Pesos ($1m) in a mattress at a Maute sniper position near the city.

The money, a mixture of cheques and cash, was discovered in Barangay Village, during a military exercise. The Philippine government promoted the official line that the army is putting pressure on the rebels so successfully that they fled and left behind their stash of cash.

Around 600 civilians remain in Marawi City, despite several attempts to lead them to safety during ceasefires. Gunfire has prevented civilians from leaving, even during the ceasefire period, and supplies are dwindling for the remaining residents

Major General Carlito Galvez, head of military command in the Western Mindanao, region told a news conference : "The Maute, even if they fight two months, they will not starve here. There are underground tunnels and basements that even a 500-pounder cannot destroy."

There has been fighting between Isis-affiliated Maute group and the army in Marawi City since May 23. The conflict has killed 170 people so far, including 20 civilians.The city is home to a Muslim-majority in a predominantly Christian country.

Duterte announced on Monday that a bounty of $200,000 was available for anyone who neutralised Isnilon Hapilon, the Filipino militant linked to Isis. He also offered $100,000 for apiece for the two leaders of Maute Group, brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute.

The government has struggled to retake the city, despite Duterte promising the war would be over in three days.

Isis-linked Maute Rebels Hide in Tunnels and Mosques as Military Prepares for Long Siege | World
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