Nearly 300 pro-Islamic State militants stormed a school in Philippines early on Wednesday and held students hostage, Reuters reported. About 300 armed men, among them members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, stormed a school in Pigcawayan town in North Cotabato province on Mindanao island and held students captive, police said.

Chief Inspector Realan Mamon, the police chief at Pigcawayan, said BIFF members engaged in a gunbattle with the Philippines military. “We can confirm that they occupied a school and there were civilians trapped,” Mamon said. “We are in the process of determining how many were trapped and their identities.”

But Philippines military subsequently said the militants retreated after the gunbattle, and there were no casualties.

BIFF militants, along with fighters from other groups who have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, have been holed up and fighting the Philippines military in Marawi city, just 190 kilometres north of Pigcawayan, since May 23. Philippine aircraft and troops had launched a fresh push against the militants in Marawi City on Tuesday, with an aim to flush them out of the area by Eid on June 26.