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ISIS releases video of jihadis destroying church in Philippines

(Reuters/Erik De Castro)A view of the Maute group stronghold with an ISIS flag in Marawi City in southern Philippines May 29, 2017.

The Islamic State terror group has released a new video showing jihadists destroying a church believed to be located in the city of Marawi, Southern Philippines.

The video, which was published by the terror group's Amaq News Agency, features militants desecrating a church by destroying icons and setting the building on fire.

The militants were seen toppling crucifixes, stamping on posters of Pope Francis, and destroying effigies in the church. The jihadists proceeded to torch the building before the end of the video, the Long War Journal noted.

While it is unclear when the footage was taken, there had been reports of destruction of churches in Marawi since the militants attacked the city late last month. At least 178 people, including 20 civilians, have been killed since the start of the siege.

According to Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, at least 400 jihadists are inside Marawi, and four groups loyal to ISIS are present in the city.

The jihadists are being led by Isnilon Hapilon, a US-designated global terrorist and former head of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Abu Sayyaf Group.

Lorenzana said that Hapilon had brought about 50 to 100 fighters with him to join 250 to 300 jihadists from the Maute group, which is also called the Islamic State of Lanao. The jihadists were also joined by some members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and Ansar al Khilafa Philippines.

The militants are believed to be holding many hostages, including a Catholic priest, who was identified as Rev. Teresito Suganob. In a recent video, the priest said that the militants are holding about 200 captives, including children.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had insisted that he will not negotiate with militants aligned with ISIS, and that he had ordered troops to kill the jihadists even if they slaughter hostages.

"I was asked if I could negotiate. I'm telling you now, you can kill all those you're holding now, but I won't talk to you," Duterte said in a speech at an air base at Lapu-Lapu. "My order really is to shoot you and to shoot you dead," he added.

About 2,000 civilians are believed to be trapped in Marawi, and many of them have run out of food and water, the Daily Mail reported.

The Marawi siege came after the army attempted to capture Hapilon in an army conducted on May 23. Hapilon, who was wounded in an airstrike in a nearby town in January, was reportedly wounded again in the foot, but he managed to escape.

Following the raid, his followers had swept through the city of 200,000 people, torching buildings and taking hostages. Martial law has been declared in the southern third of the Philippines in order to deal with the uprising.

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