Hostages in the Philippines who have escaped the clutches of jihadists in Marawi have described being made to build bombs for militants.
More than 200 hostages, many of whom are Christians, have been held by militants and forced to construct improvised explosive devices, as well as scavenge for food and weapons. According to reports from Reuters, some have even been press-ganged into fighting for Islamist rebels.
During the fight between government forces and jihadists over Marawi, one escaped hostage recalled how the jihadists, excited by their ‘success’ in Marawi, openly discussed other possible targets, including the Philippines’ capital, Manila.
Although the Philippines have a Christian majority, the southern region has a significant Muslim population and Islamist groups. The latter have been engaged in a decades-long conflict with the government.