The militants are holding 12 hostages – 6 adult males and six children, according to the Manila Bulletin. The ongoing fighting resulted in the wounding of at least one auxiliary force soldier of the armed forces, known as CAFGU.
Government troops managed to push back the initial muslim attack, but ISIS-linked fighters managed to take at least five people hostage as they retreated, according to a spokesperson for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.
The death toll from the fighting in the Philippines has so far surpassed 300 casualties. Some 225 militants, 59 soldiers and 26 civilians have been killed in the clashes according to official government figures.
“But as they (BIFF fighters) were escaping, they took some civilians hostage and [used them as] human shields,” Capt. Arvin Encinas, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
So far, the Philippines Army has been unable to determine whether students and teachers were among the captives.
Mamon, also could not confirm initial reports that students were being held hostage after the terrorists reportedly occupied a local school.
“We are still verifying that report,” Mamon told the Inquirer by telephone.
Many residents have reportedly been taken hostage and used as human shields after armed Muslims attacked a school and stormed a village in the Cotabato province of the Philippines, according to local police.
Government troops are now engaging members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) after the terrorists overran the village of Malagakit, located just outside of Pigcawayan town, Chief Inspector Realan Mamon said.
Pigcawayan Mayor Eliseo Garsesa said that about 200 armed men entered the Christian-Muslim village early Wednesday morning. Police earlier estimated that around 300 Islamist fighters raided the locality.
The police chief confirmed that the militants entered the village shortly after 5:00am on Wednesday.
“We can confirm that they occupied a school and there were civilians trapped. We are in the process of determining how many were trapped and their identities,” Mamon said, according to Reuters.
The mayor revealed that authorities had received intelligence reports about text message chatter that the “armed groups were coming.” Garsesa, however, said that such messages were common, and it could not always be verified, the Manila Times reports.