Marawi (Agenzia Fides) - While the capital Manila was upset by a terrorist attack at Resort World Manila (which includes shopping centers, restaurants and hotels in the area near the airport) that killed 36 people, claimed by groups that say are linked to the Islamic State, "fighting intensifies in Marawi and the army strengthens its effort to drive out the jihadists and regain the city", says to Fides the Bishop of Marawi, Edwin de la Pena (see Fides 1/6/2017).
The Bishop explains to Fides: "We are in a very delicate phase. We are very concerned about the lives of hostages (among them a priest and 15 Catholics, ndr) since we do not know what their fate may be. Now there are ongoing contacts and militants threaten to decapitate Fr. Chito. The hostages are their guarantee of survival. We hope that the militants decide to release them safe and sound".
Mgr. De la Pena reports to Fides: "We have welcomed and with renewed hope the public announcement of Jafaar Ghadzali, vice president of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Mindanao Guerrilla Group, ndr), who asked the Mahdi jihadist group to release Fr. Chito and other hostages for humanitarian reasons, reiterating that such violent acts are not compatible with the teaching of Islam. Muslim parliamentarian Samira Gutoc-Tomaws also expressed her wish for Fr. Chito’s release, with whom she shared many efforts of Islamic-Christian dialogue and peace-building initiatives. Public opinion is uniting. Hopefully this can have an influence on the end of the crisis and the release of the hostages. We continue to pray for them and renew the appeal to the Holy Father to pray for us", concludes the Bishop. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 2/6/2017)