Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military to take a call on bombing the mosques where Islamists have held hostages. He was speaking about the ongoing conflict in Marawi, the city where the Filipino security forces have been battling the Islamic State-inspired for the past 100 days under martial law.
In late May, Duterte announced his government was imposing martial law in the southern parts of the country to contain the rising Islamist insurgency led by the Maute group. Duterte had been pressing ahead against the militants in all these weeks to flush out the remaining extremists.
Earlier, the firebrand leader asked the troops to wait it out before they launch attacks on mosques. But, reversing his position recently Duterte said the armed forces are free to decide considering the merits of the situation.
"The option is already yours, because we cannot have stalemate for over one year," he told a gathering on Wednesday, 30 August.
"The military had long wanted to bomb the mosque to capture or kill the leaders there, and in the process, sacrifice the hostages who are all Filipinos, maybe Maranaos and a mingling of Christians, Tagalog, there inside," said the Philippines president.
He added that he still wanted the military to make efforts to rescue the captives from the Islamists' custody. Duterte said he had also sent an emissary to hold negotiations with the extremist group but so far nothing credible turned out.
"But I have my limits, even if I'm president. I cannot go beyond that," Duterte said.