Children and hostages are being forced to fight alongside pro-Islamic State (IS) gunmen waging a seven-week battle for Marawi City, the military said yesterday.
Militants seized Marawi, considered the Muslim capital of the largely Catholic Philippines, on May 23 in a bid to create an IS province, and over 100 remain holed up in the city despite intense military efforts to oust them.
Some of the extremists are teenagers who may have been recruited and trained to use guns when they were still children, said Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“We continuously get disturbing narratives from (escaped residents) that children as well as hostages are being employed in the firefight,” Padilla told reporters in Manila.
Casualties among children and civilians forced to take up arms could not be ruled out, Padilla said.
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