ISIS may not be the powerful behemoth that it was in the waning days of the Obama administration, but the Muslim terrorist organization can still deal damage across the globe.
The latest evidence of this fact is that the organization currently has fighters battling police and the Filipino army on the streets of a small village in the Philippines.
The population is over 90% Christian (with the vast majority being Roman Catholic) but the nation still struggles with radical Islam among the 4% of their Muslim population.
On Tuesday a large group of armed ISIS-linked fighters from a group which sometimes calls itself the Islamic State of Lanao, but is also known as Maute, marched into Marawi City and raised the flag of ISIS over the local hospital. Marawi City is in the Southern Philippines where the majority of the nations Muslims live and where the terrorists have set up shop in the dense jungles.
The terrorist fighters simply walked into Marawi City earlier today and began firing at local buildings, the residents quickly called authorities for help and the army was sent to deal with the issue along with a special police unit. Since then the groups have engaged in a series of firefights that have the entire city terrified.
“I’m appealing to residents of Marawi City to stay home, drop on the ground if they hear gunshots,” Mamintal Adiong Jr, the governor of the Lanao del Sur province told The Philippine Star newspaper. “They have to lock their doors and gates too.”
“There [were] no indications that an attack like this will happen. There are no checkpoints in the city,” one resident told Philstar. “Everything is in silence. No news about the city government. Everything is vague.”
There is no word yet on how many people may be hurt, wounded, or dead. Neither is there any word on whether the government has been able to rein the situation in. An attack like this must be disconcerting, not just for the Philippines, but for every nation that has a group like Maute actively at work in their country. If the terrorists began randomly selecting cities for chaos such as this, it could send entire nations into panic and lead to some horrifying government crackdowns or civilian unrest.
However, at the time of publication there were conflicting reports that the fighting was kicked off by the government who had learned of a local terrorist leader being seen in the city. If this is the case it would cast the situation in a different light, and show that the government is working hard to stamp out their Islamic radical problem.