Photographs and videos shared across social media platforms are revealing utter chaos in the Philippines city of Marawi as government forces and militants linked to Islamic State battle for control.
Marawi, which is colloquially known as the ‘Islamic city’ is the focal point of a dramatic outbreak of violence on the archipelago’s southern island of Mindanao.
Heavily armed insurgents laid siege to a prison, seized hostages in a church and paraded through the streets in Marawi in a show of force.
The crisis spurred Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to invoke martial law on the entire island of Mindanao and the city was subject to a blackout Tuesday as government forces engaged with militants and snipers patrolled the streets.
A photo posted on Twitter shows a mosque, the Saduc Masjid, silhouetted by a fire in the background, which the user says is “allegedly” the nearby prison in the aftermath of the attack.
Another photo, widely shared Wednesday, shows a man clad in black raising a black flag on a building beside the same mosque.
Photos posted to Facebook and Twitter show the Islamic State-linked fighters, many clad all in black, parading through neighborhoods in flat bed trucks and on foot.
The militants seized fire engines and government vehicles and decked them out with the Black Standard, the flag associated with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). Photos also show them operating checkpoints in the city.
A video of militants attacking the prison – originally posted on a Twitter account associated with jihadists – was also widely shared. The account has since been suspended by the platform however copies are in circulation.
The video shows the heavily armed insurgents firing guns as they travelled in a truck waving black flags.
Marawi resident Chico Dimaro Usman described the situation in a Facebook post. “The Truth of what happen [sic] in Marawi City will never be covered up by anybody,” he said before claiming that the militants took control of most of the city.
“Let us accept that ISIS controlled the center of the city (80 to 90%). Government Fire trucks are driven by them with ISIS Flag, Police Car also and even Ambulance. In our street… the ISIS is everywhere.”
Long lines of vehicles, and people on foot, attempting to leave the city were pictured Wednesday, with the images widely shared online.
#PrayForMarawi is trending on Twitter following news of the disturbing situation.
Duterte made an passionate and forceful speech in which he warned that the country could “implode” if the threat from militants is not squashed immediately.
“I have always said do not force my hand into it because if I start to declare martial law, I will solve all the problems of Mindanao connected with law and order,” he stated.
“The remaining five years of my time, it will be remembered as an administration that did nothing in the face of violence… I will not accept that kind of s**t.”