ISIS-linked gunmen battle Philippine troops in southern city

Louis Holland
May 25, 2017

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the southern island of Mindanao on Tuesday after a fierce bout of fighting between the army and militants linked to Islamic State in the city of Marawi.

He spoke as the fighting raged in Marawi city, where militants seized a priest, 10 worshippers and three church workers from a cathedral as they rampaged through the city.

The militants called for reinforcements from Maute, a group allied to IS, and some 50 gunmen managed to enter the city of Marawi.

Villegas said the gunmen are demanding the government recall its forces.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, has urged the government to ramp up security in the city.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte cut short a visit to Russian Federation and imposed martial law on the island of Mindanao on Tuesday.

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Amate said he has relayed his message to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and other government agencies to look into the situation that will protect the city from destruction and the civilians from harm.

Aside from the church, the terror group reportedly burned the city jail and two schools.

He said the group erected Islamic State flags at several locations.

Hapilon, who is also wanted by the United States, was the target of Tuesday's attempted raid in Marawi, but was not captured.

"The Mautes have shown an ability to absorb what would seem to be major losses in clashes with the police and military, suggesting that their organisation is larger and better organised that perhaps they have been given credit for", Jones said in the report.

Duterte said martial law would mean checkpoints, arrests and searches without warrant, and it would go on for as long as it took to restore order, but he would not tolerate abuses of power by police or soldiers.

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Duterte made the declaration for the island of Mindanao, in the nation's south. "We request all Filipinos to pray for a peaceful resolution to this conflict and for the safety of all hostages", he said.

The Maute and Abu Sayyaf have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and have proved fierce opponents for the military.

Martial law was last declared in 2009 by the then president, Gloria Arroyo, in Maguindanao, part of Mindanao, after dozens were killed in election-related violence.

Thousands of residents have fled away from the city after gunfights erupted since Tuesday between the military troops and combined members of the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf.

Duterte is cutting short an official visit to Moscow because of the clashes, PNA reported.

The government blamed the Maute for a bombing in a marketplace in Duterte's hometown of Davao in September 2016 which killed 14 people and wounded dozens.

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Troops found homemade bombs, grenades, combat uniforms and passports of suspected Indonesian militants in the camp.

Other reports by Info About Network

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