Philippines official: Terror suspect still in besieged city

28 May, 2017, 06:09 | Author: Essie Rivera

At least 44 people, a lot of them suspected militants, have been killed.

Duterte imposed martial law over all of Mindanao and urged civilians to flee Marawi where the Philippine military has begun to conduct airstrikes.

At least 44 people have died in the fighting, including 31 militants and 11 soldiers, officials say.

Thousands of civilians have been fleeing the city of some 200,000 people.

"The dream of the Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to the ISIS and its flag, is to transform Mindanao into an Islamic state", he added. "But if you marry four, son of a whore you will be beaten up", he said on Friday.

Galvez said the military managed to gain control of "some areas" but admitted that there are still areas which are still under the control of the Maute militants.

Duterte replied, "Just take care". "And if you can not be convinced to stop fighting, so be it. Let's just fight".

"I know that in everybody's mind, when we speak of martial law, we can not dissociate it from our historical past under the late President Ferdinand Marcos". He said governmental planes are at their disposal for the wounded to be transported and the best medical equipment is available.

"We desire to free Marawi City of those evil forces and make way for a peaceful Ramadan", Padilla said. "We have to finish this".

Malaysians, Indonesians and other foreigners were among the guerrillas killed on Thursday, which the government said demonstrated how the Philippines could become a haven for overseas militants. Security experts say Mindanao could become a draw for regional extremists and the Maute's alignment with Islamic State and its ability to take on the military could support moves to secure funding and recruit foreign and local fighters.

Much of Marawi remains a no-go zone, but disturbing details have emerged.

Duterte said a local police chief was stopped at a militant checkpoint and beheaded. Mr Enriquez has been in the job for about two months.

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Militants forced their way into the Marawi Cathedral and seized a Catholic priest, 10 worshippers and three church workers, according to the city's bishop, Edwin de la Pena.

THE Philippines Commission on Human Rights has cautioned the military and national police against carrying out arbitrary arrests amid the government's implementation of martial law in restive Mindanao.

Armed forces helicopters fired guided rockets at Islamist militant positions on Saturday in the southern city of Marawi.

It has transformed into invasion by foreign terrorists who heeded the clarion call of ISIS to go to the Philippines if they feel difficulty in going to Iraq or Syria.

The use for the first time of the heavy firepower came amid growing confidence that the location of the man believed to be the leader of the Islamic State-inspired fighters, Isnilon Hapilon, has been pinpointed in the city.

Washington has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Hapilon's capture.

The southern Philippines, particularly the resource-rich but poverty-wracked Mindanao region, has always been a hotbed of activity by the Abu Sayyaf and other fundamentalist groups.

The president, who is known for remarks often deemed offensive, reiterated that only he would be liable for any backlash.

Duterte promised his armed forces "the weapons and the equipment and we have the air assets to help you".

"ISIS is shrinking in its battle space, in its heartland, but it's decentralizing", Rohan Gunaratna, head of Singapore's International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, told VICE News.

Mr Duterte warned he may expand martial law nationwide, an unnerving development for many in the Philippines who lived through the rule of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

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