Filipino islamists take churchgoers hostage and behead local police chief

Isis-linked attackers in the Philippines take churchgoers hostage

The gunmen are threatening to kill their hostages unless government forces are withdrawn from the island (Credit: Twitter @dailyasianage)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Militants linked to Islamic State have taken hostages in a cathedral and beheaded a policeman in the south of the Philippines. 

Churchgoers in Marawi City on Mindanao island came under siege on Wednesday, when attackers gained entry to the establishment.

The reverend of the congregation, Chito Suganob, and more than a dozen members of the group are being held by the gunmen as bargaining chips. 

Rodrigo Duterte, the hugely controversial Filipino president, has declared martial law across Mindanao in an attempt to quell the islamist insurgency, but attackers at the cathedral have threatened the lives of their hostages unless the government withdraws their troops.  

Elsewhere, clashes continue across the island. Duterte told reporters that a police chief in the coastal town of Malabang, around 70km from Marawi, was beheaded by the militants.

"The chief of police in Malabang on his way home, going back he was stopped by a checkpoint manned by terrorists and I think they decapitated them right then and there," Duterte was quoted by AFP as saying.

The incident comes mere days after an attack in Manchester by Isis killed 22 and injured around 64