Islamist militants locked in street-to-street battles with security forces in a southern Philippine city have killed 19 civilians, the military said Sunday, bringing the official death toll from almost a week of fighting to at least 85.
Hapilon was purportedly designated leader of the Islamic State group's Southeast Asia branch previous year, but his ties to extremist groups go way back. Civilians trapped by fighting in Marawi city are waving white flags from their windows to show they are not combatants.
Helicopters circled the city, peppering Maute positions with machine gun fire to try to force them from a bridge vital to retaking Marawi, a mainly Muslim city of 200,000 where fighters had torched and seized a school, a jail, a cathedral, and taken more than a dozen hostages.
THE Congress is duty-bound to review the basis for the issuance of President Duterte's Proclamation 216 placing Mindanao under martial law, Sen.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesperson, said on Saturday that surgical air strikes was the best way to do this as the terrorists were hiding and holding out inside private homes, government buildings and other facilities. The military said it believes Hapilon was still in Marawi.
Police Chief Romeo Enriquez said there may have been confusion because his predecessor in Malabang, a town near Marawi, was killed in the fighting on Tuesday, although he was not beheaded.
"The main objective of the offensive is to suppress the lawlessness and to maintain normalcy in Marawi so that our people here, our countrymen, can return, especially by Ramadan", he said, adding that he hopes the city would be cleared within three days.
At least 44 people have died in the fighting, including 31 militants and 11 soldiers, officials say.
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What is troubling the security apparatus is that radical elements of another Islamic State-linked group, Abu Sayyaf, appear to be collaborating with Maute, far from its island strongholds of Basilan, Jolo and Tawi Tawi, all off Mindanao.
Aside from fighting government forces, these terrorist elements are also helping lawless groups in the country in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices and bombs. However, the imposition of martial law throughout Mindanao for at least 60 days could also affect the Philippine armed forces' handling of other armed conflicts on the island, including with the communist New People's Army (NPA) and various Moro insurgent groups. "I have a serious problem in Mindanao and the ISIS footprints are everywhere". "Because of this commitment, it is sad that we have to offer lives in order to accomplish that", said Padilla, adding that it is for the exact reason why it's important for civilians to cooperate.
Eleven Indonesian citizens have been evacuated from Marawi City, the capital of Lanao del Sur province, the Philippines, where intense clashes have reportedly occurred between security authorities and Islamic State (IS)-linked insurgents.
Much of Marawi remains a no-go zone, but disturbing details have emerged.
"We're confronting maybe 30 to 40 remaining from the local terrorist group", said Herrera.
Martial law allows Duterte to use the armed forces to carry out arrests, searches and detentions more rapidly.
"We laud the good bishop's support of the President's war against violent extremism in Mindanao".
Malacanang has submitted a report to both the Senate and House of Representatives which also reveals that the Maute Group had already infiltrated 75 percent of Marawi, with the plan of targeting Christian communities while trying to recruit Muslim youths.