Helicopters, tanks in battle to retake Philippine city

Not only did the raid fail to capture Hapilon, it was repelled by dozens of gunmen who proceeded to rampage across the city, burning homes and public buildings and helping more than 100 inmates escape from two local prisons.

The violence erupted Tuesday night when authorities launched an unsuccessful raid to capture Hapilon.

The Phillippines endured 14 years of martial law under former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted in a peaceful revolution in 1986.

"Anyone now holding a gun, confronting government with violence, my orders are spare no one, let us solve the problems of Mindanao once and for all", said Duterte, who is from the island, after cutting short a visit to Russian Federation and returning to Manila. They said six soldiers perished in Thursday's fighting.

The White House condemned the Maute group as "cowardly terrorists" and said in a statement the United States was a proud ally of the Philippines and would continue to support its fight against extremism. "If there is an open defiance, you will die". Various human rights groups reported that almost 2,000 people have died from vigilante groups. As details of the attack emerged, fears mounted that the largest Roman Catholic nation in Asia could be falling into a growing list of countries grappling with the spread of influence from Daesh.

(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez). Men jump from their vehicle known as "Jeepney" to be frisked by police at a checkpoint leading to Marawi city in southern Philippines Thursday, May 25, 2017. Plumes of black smoke rose from the direction of the city center and air force helicopters swooped overhead.

"We were preparing for exams and we could hear the gunfire and bombs", he told Reuters.

A police chief in the southern Philippines says he's safe after Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte announced earlier that the chief had been beheaded.

Indonesia's elite anti-terror squad was Thursday investigating a suicide bombing near a Jakarta bus station that killed three policemen in an assault authorities believe is linked to Daesh.

Philippine intelligence indicates the two groups from different parts of Mindanao are connected, through Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of a radical faction of Abu Sayyaf.

Military chief of staff General Eduardo Ano said the militants erected IS flags at several locations.

President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in the southern Philippines, and has vowed to take harsh measures against the militants.

The problem of militancy in the south, the scene of decades-long Muslim separatist uprisings in the predominantly Catholic nation, is not new. The ISIS-affiliated terrorists now attacking Mindanao are not believed to be Middle Easterners fleeing the Raqqa and Mosul battlegrounds, but native Philippine radicals.

Meanwhile, Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao condemned the Maute group for its atrocities in Marawi city.

Duterte had repeatedly threatened to place the region under martial law, which allows him to use the armed forces to carry out arrests, searches and detentions more rapidly. Peace can only be attained when the root causes of armed conflicts are addressed through diligent efforts " he said.

Thirteen of the Maute Group members perished as government troops cleared two bridges, said Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the military's Western Mindanao Command.

Marawi is in Lanao del Sur province, a stronghold of the Maute, a fierce, but little-known group that has been a tricky opponent for the military.

  • Leroy Wright