Roman Catholic church leaders in the Philippines have hailed the “stunning stories” of Muslims saving Christians from the Islamic State terrorist group in Marawi, and said that Christians are also helping thousands of Muslims.
“We all cry from our hearts: War in Marawi, never again! War in Marawi, no more!” the Philippine bishops said in a statement on Monday, as reported by Catholic News Agency.
The IS-backed Maute militants in Marawi, who attacked and captured parts of the city at the end of May, have carried out vast atrocities. The militants are said to be torturing civilians, including the minority Christian population there, and are using people as sex slaves and human shields.
The Filipino military said on Tuesday that as many as 500 people have been killed in the battle for the city, with 381 of them believed to be IS-linked fighters. The civilian death toll has also been rising, Al Jazeera reported.
Some local reports have said that as many as 2,000 civilians may have been killed so far, though army officials have said that such numbers stem from “unverified reports.”
The Catholic bishops insisted in their statement that the war is “not religious,” and said that Muslim and Christian civilians have been helping each other escape the radical militants.