Philippines: Duterte declares martial law in Mindanao amid clashes

Philippines: Duterte declares martial law in Mindanao amid clashes

Philippines: Duterte declares martial law in Mindanao amid clashes

ISIL-linked militants who attacked a city in the southern Philippines Tuesday burned a cathedral and abducted a parish priest and at least 10 other civilians. "But if there will be loss of lives needlessly, and without reason, just to kill, kill, and kill, I will declare martial law in Mindanao".

Arevalo added that they still have no information on whether Maute Group members have casualties in the series of gunbattles with government security forces in Marawi City.

Department of Justice list of most-wanted terrorists worldwide, with a reward of up to United States dollars 5 million for his capture.

Duterte cut short a visit to Russian Federation after the violence erupted late on Tuesday. "I have a serious problem in Mindanao and the ISIS footprints are everywhere".

The 60-day martial law declaration will allow government forces to carry out searches and arrests and detain suspects without warrants.

"Unfortunately I must go there now", he said. "That is all that we can give you at the moment", the Defense chief added.

Duterte, a firebrand native of Mindanao, has often threatened to impose martial law to crush extremists and stop radical Islamist ideology spreading since taking office in June past year, prompting concerns by human rights groups that he plans to create a dictatorship in the island nation of 100 million people.

"He was not a combatant". He was not bearing arms. "His capture and that of his companions violates every norm of civilized conflict".

Philippine security forces hunting one of the world's most-wanted Islamist militants were battling gunmen in a southern city on Tuesday, authorities said. The scene of the firefight was near police headquarters and the campus of Mindanao State University, officials said. Fleeing residents were crammed inside or on top of vehicles, clutching their belongings.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said that the operation in Marawi was initiated by combined state forces contrary to other reports.

The US State Department has a US$5million bounty for the capture of Hapilon, an Arabic-speaking preacher known for his expertise in commando assaults, who pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2014.

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

Troops sealed off major entry and exit points to prevent Hapilon from escaping, Ano told The Associated Press by telephone from Moscow, where he was accompanying Duterte.

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

Fires raged in Marawi but the military and the city's mayor said the situation was now under control.

While pursuing peace talks with two large Muslim rebel groups in the south of this predominantly Roman Catholic nation, Duterte has ordered the military to destroy smaller extremist groups which have tried to align with the Islamic State group. Hapilon is the country's most-wanted man, with a $5 million bounty placed on his head by the US for alleged terrorist acts against American citizens.

"It is hard to root out because they are from there", he said.

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.

In April, troops backed by airstrikes killed dozens of Maute militants and captured their jungle camp near Lanao del Sur's Piagapo town.

Herrera said troops and special police personnel were deployed after villagers notified the military of the presence of the militants.

This story has been corrected to show that the first name of the emergency response official is Myrna instead of Mary.

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