Philippines forces hit militants; civilians wave white flags

Monday, 29 May, 2017

Mr Duterte told soldiers in Iligan, a city near Marawi, that he had long feared that "contamination by ISIS" loomed in the country's future, using the acronym for the Islamic State group.

Most of Marawi's 200,000 inhabitants fled after the gunmen ran amok on Tuesday, seizing and torching buildings, freeing militants from jails and taking a priest and churchgoers hostage at the city's cathedral. But the recent violence has raised fears that extremism could be growing as smaller militant groups unify and align themselves with the ideology of the Islamic State group.

At least 31 militants and 11 soldiers have been killed in the fighting and thousands of civilians have fled the city. "My message mainly to the terrorists on the other side is we can still solve this through dialogue", Duterte said on Friday.

It was not immediately clear whether civilians were among the dead. "We can not just pinpoint the particular spot". "I'm just praying that the bullets will not find their way to my house and hit us".

President Rodrigo Duterte has imposed martial law across the southern Philippines, warning he might expand it nationwide. But for this martial law and the consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I and I alone would be responsible.

Duterte also came under fire for reportedly joking that he would take responsibility for the crimes and abuses committed by troops under martial law, including the raping of women.

"We are continuously verifying that there has been a number of them who have been killed", military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla said.

"Islamic State capturing a major city in the Philippines is a very significant blow to the security and stability of this region", he said.

The bodies of 16 people thought to be killed by Islamist militants were found in the southern part of the Philippines, the nation's military said Sunday.

Eight found near Mindanao State University were four men, three women and a child, Padilla said. But he added that the smaller groups "are working to really get that recognition and funds, of course". Hapilon has also suffered a mild stroke, he said.

An army brigade was sent to dislodge them, but they remained holed up in parts of Marawi as of last night.

Malacañang took time to remember some of the members of the government forces who perished during the attacks in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur on Tuesday. Once again, Hapilon escaped. "Hopefully tingnan natin, within three days we can [clear the city]", he told reporters in a briefing in Marawi City.

With much of Marawi a no-go zone, confusion reigned.

"Attack helicopters fired rockets in a precision attack", Herrera said. "We have to finish this".

As authorities try to gain more control over the city, disturbing details have emerged.

"So far, there has been no confirmation about their involvement with the Maute group, IS, or other terror groups involved in the clashes in Marawi", Arrmanatha said on Saturday.

The problem of militancy in the south, the scene of decades-long Muslim separatist uprisings in the predominantly Catholic nation, is not new. "Thus he has no tolerance for human rights, which stand in the way of authoritarianism".