Philippine troops bomb Islamist militants holding hostages in city

"We will do everything possible to prevent any influx of militants or Filipino villagers", he said yesterday.

Vowing to be "harsh", he said: 'We are in a state of emergency. if you fight us, you will die. "And if it means many people dying, so be it". "That's how it is". The city of Marawi was still largely sealed off Thursday, although automatic gunfire and explosions could be heard.

The battles with the Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, started on Tuesday afternoon during a failed raid by security forces on one of the group's hideouts, which spiralled into chaos.

The resident, who had asked to remain anonymous, also said that there were many roadblocks put up by the military and that security checks had been set up along the roads in order to identify militants, who are reportedly mainly from Islamic State and Abu Sayyaf. Duterte said a local police chief was stopped at a militant checkpoint and beheaded.

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 took more than a dozen hostages. Troops found homemade bombs, grenades, combat uniforms and passports of suspected Indonesian militants in the camp, the military said. He was not bearing arms.

"Please pray for us here", Mohammad Abedin, president of the Lanao Del Sur Medical Society in Marawi, told the publication.

President Trump's outreach to President Duterte has been seen as another example of the affinity the United States president has shown for some foreign leaders with shaky human rights or autocratic reputations.

De Borja says the Martial Law that was declared in Mindanao has a time limit, and is nothing like the Martial Law under former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcus.

"I might also decide to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in the Visayas", the president said at the news conference Wednesday, saying the country's central set of islands is within walking distance of Mindanao.

He also said martial law would remain until the terrorism threat had ended. Protest leader Teddy Casino warned that there might be more extrajudicial killings and human rights violations.

Catholics in the Philippine capital have attended a Mass for people in the southern region now under martial law and in Marawi.

"The recent pronouncement made by the President that the martial law in Mindanao will be as harsh as Marcos' martial law is a unsafe edict", NUPL Secretary-General Ephraim B. Cortez said. "It is our constitutional duty to enforce the law and provide security".

Duterte, however, has cast the decision as one he made reluctantly - and one that, now that he's made it, he's resolved to carry through to its conclusion.

  • Leroy Wright