Philippine troops attack Daesh-linked militants

"We received a report from the community, they saw armed men...we checked that this is the core group of Maute, so we launched a surgical operation to neutralize the group planning to incite terrorism in Marawi City", said Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera with the Philippines military.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law Tuesday in the southern region of Mindanao, where security forces have been battling Islamic State group-linked militants, his spokesman said.

Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution says that the President, as commander-in-chief, may "in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it" suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the country under martial law.

Lorenzana said reinforcements have already been sent to Marawi City, with more troops coming in from Zamboanga City and Manila.

"We are extremely concerned about the impact of the ongoing hostilities in Marawi City on the civilians".

Hapilon reportedly has been chosen to lead an Islamic State group branch in Southeast Asia and is on the U.S. Department of Justice list of most-wanted terrorists worldwide, with a reward of up to $5 million for his capture.

While in Russia, Durerte sought the assistance of Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide the Philippine government military weapons to crush terrorist organizations in the Southern Philippines.

"A firefight ensued and our troops reacted properly, but as of tonight, in the Philippines, the Maute group burned several facilities (in the city)", Lorenzana said.

He added the imposition of martial law in Mindanao is a necessary step in order for government security forces to stop the threat that these terrorists pose, who are mostly not originally from Marawi City.

In metropolitan Manila's Quiapo district, where a bomb blast earlier this month killed two people and wounded four others in a Muslim community, police put up checkpoints on Wednesday, stopping motorists to inspect cars and checking documents of motorcycle riders.

Local reports suggested that the militants had entered a local hospital and raised a black ISIS flag above the roof although this information was officially verified by the army.

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

At least three government troops have been killed in the fighting.

Meanwhile, the Charter also allows the Supreme Court to review the proclamation of martial law if any citizen challenges the "sufficiency of the factual basis of the declaration", and must decide on it within 30 days from its filing. An Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher known for his expertise in commando assaults, he pledged allegiance to the IS group in 2014, according to security officials.

Provincial Vice Gov. Mamintal Adiong said late Wednesday that more troops had arrived in the city, which was dark because 80 percent was without electrical power.

These include the Maute group, which is based near Marawi, hundreds of kilometres to the north of the Abu Sayyaf strongholds. Both are aligned with the Islamic State, also identified as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.

  • Leroy Wright