By John Unson
LANAO DEL SUR, Philippines — Officials on Thursday warned that terrorists are deliberately holding out in mosques in Marawi City to provoke airstrikes they can hype as “sacrilegious” to trigger indignation by moderate Muslims.
Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and his constituent-Maranaw lawmaker, Zia Alonto Adiong of the 24-member Regional Assembly, separately said that the Dawlah Islamiya want the two old and historic mosques in Marawi City they are occupying leveled by bombs to trigger an outcry among neutral Muslims.
“We must not forget that they attacked and vandalized the St. Mary’s Church in Marawi City to cause friction among Christians and Muslims. We are thankful to Mindanao’s Christian communities for being sober and for not responding the way these terrorists had wanted them to react,” said Hataman, chairman of the regional peace and order council.
Adiong, spokesman of the Lanao del Sur provincial crisis management committee, said the two worship sites being occupied by Maute and Abu Sayyaf gunmen — the Bato Islamic Mosque and the Lanao Mindanao Al-Islamie Center — both have high historical and religious values to ethnic Maranaws.
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