15-Year-Old’s Death While Praying In A Mosque Highlights Marawi Crisis

The Philippines is in chaos amid attacks by groups pledging loyalty to ISIS, and children are dying in the crossfire.



A 15-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet as he prayed alongside his family in a mosque in the Philippines. He was a sixth-grader at the Datu Saber Elementary School in the city.

The child, identified as Abdillah Masid, was hit in the head and died on the spot.

He became the latest victim of the ongoing siege in Marawi, the Philippine city overrun on May 23 by hundreds of militants belonging to groups called Maute and Abu Sayyaf, both of which are affiliated with the Islamic State terrorist organization.

In response, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the island of Mindanao, of which Marawi is a part.

Government troops continue to battle the terrorists, who are using “bomb-proof tunnels, anti-tank weapons hidden in mosques” and civilians as human shields to maintain the siege, according to GMA News Online.

"They know where the government forces are coming from and where they are taking cover,” said Major Rowan Rimas, an operations officer for the Marines. “They have snipers and their positions are well-defended."

Amid the clashes, civilians remain the biggest losers.

Under the leadership of Isnilon Hapilon, known to be the anointed ISIS chief in Southeast Asia, the terrorists hope to form an Islamic state in Marawi, the largest Muslim-majority city in the Philippines, which is more than 90 percent Roman Catholic.

The militants are reportedly using 1,000 to 2,000 trapped civilians as human shields. The fighting, which is about to enter its fourth week, has claimed the lives of 58 government troops and more than 100 civilians, according to CNN.

Just on June 13, Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists shot dead five civilians in the city trapped inside a house.

Meanwhile, Duterte is issuing increasingly aggressive instructions to his soldiers.

"I am ordering you to crush our enemy," he said in a speech to troops in the south. "When I say crush them, you have to destroy everything, including lives."

Moreover, since the militants are using mosques and madrasas as bases for their snipers, according to the Philippine military, it is difficult for government troops to counter-attack. Even if they do, it could result in civilian casualties as in the tragic death of 15-year-old Abdillah Masid.

Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters 

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