MARAWI, Philippines, Aug. 28 (UPI) — In what is being called a “staged raid,” eight militants linked to the Islamic State were freed from jail in the Philippines Saturday.
A military source said he believes the militants, held last week after being found with homemade mortars, had been allowed to escape, BBC reported.
About 20 fighters with the Maute group turned up at the Lanao del Sur jail in Marawi armed with AK-47 Kalashnikovs and M-14 rifles, to stage the escape. No shots were fired. Along with the eight IS fighters, at least 15 other inmates held on charges from murder to drug-related offenses, also walked out of the jail.
Chief Superintendent Agripino Javier, the police director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Sunday he launched a hunt for the group that conducted the raid, along with the detainees they freed, PhilStar Global Nation reported.
The Maute group, which carries black IS banners when it moves around, first came on the scene earlier this year swearing allegiance to Iraq and Syria. The group previously beheaded two non-Muslim captives they believed to be government spies.
The Philippino region of Mindanao, which is majority Muslim, has faced separatist clashes for decades. Most of the country is Catholic.