MARAWI CITY, Philippines (Reuters) – Civilians held hostage by Islamist militants occupying a southern Philippine city have been forced to loot homes, take up arms against government troops and serve as sex slaves for rebel fighters, the army said on Tuesday.
Citing accounts of seven residents of Marawi City who either escaped or were rescued, the military said some hostages were forced to convert to Islam, carry wounded fighters to mosques, and marry militants of the Maute group loyal to Islamic State.
“This is what is happening inside, this is very evident,” military spokesman Jo-Ar Herrera told a news conference.
“These are evil personalities.”
Their accounts, which could not be immediately verified, are the latest harrowing accounts to come out of a conflict zone that the military has been unable to clear for five weeks, as well-armed and organized rebels fight off soldiers with sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.
Some escapees say bodies of residents have been left in the streets, some for weeks…