Philippines official: Terror suspect still in besieged city

Thousands fled strife-torn Marawi City yesterday in anticipation of a government offensive to drive out hundreds of heavily-armed members of the Maute Group who stormed the Muslim-dominated Western Mindanao city Tuesday. Isnilon got away and fighters loyal to him took over parts of the city, burning building and seizing 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.

A military spokesman says troops are using helicopters to help clear militants from the besieged city of Marawi in the southern Philippines.

Reports say villagers are too afraid to move the bodies because terrorists are still in the area.

Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office (PAO), said the military is in full control of the situation and that the militants were contained in one area.

The Washington Post also ran a story debunking Duterte's explanation he gave in a press conference in Beijing, as to why he declared martial law.

Duterte said Wednesday that militants who have laid siege to the city of Marawi had decapitated the police chief of Malabang.

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

"The Philippine government has a responsibility to protect the population from armed militants, but gaining the backing of affected people means abiding by the rule of law", Kine said.

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.

"We also call on Muslim leaders to speak out against terrorist groups, who use religion to disguise their barbarity, staining the peaceful name of Islam with the blood of innocents during this holy month of Ramadan", Abella said.

On Thursday, Duterte assured government troops that he "alone" would be responsible for the "consequences" of his martial law declaration in the region.

Fighting between militants linked to Isis and government forces began after an attempt to arrest a veteran Filipino militant.

"I warned everybody not to force my hand into it", Duterte said, according to The National. "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. Troops found homemade bombs, grenades, combat uniforms and passports of suspected Indonesian militants in the camp, the military said.

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

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

Herrera said only 30 to 40 Maute men remain in Marawi City, although officials earlier said the group is composed of around 100 men. He has repeatedly threatened to place the south, the scene of decades-long Muslim separatist uprisings, under martial law.

In 1972, then-President Marcos imposed martial law and suspended habeas corpus throughout the Philippines, which facilitated widespread abuses by the military and other security forces, including detention without charge, torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings.

Five soldiers and 13 members of the terror groups were killed in the clashes, based on military reports.

Gatchalian pointed out "martial law is already being implemented in Mindanao as we speak".

  • Jon Douglas