Christians Killed as Jihadists Aim to Transform Mindanao into Islamic State

The Philippine authority continues to fight to free Marawi from the Maute's siege as surviving residents flee for their safety. The military said Maute has yet to be endorsed by Islamic State. Army tanks packed with soldiers rolled into the southe.

Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) spokesperson said on Friday that a Singaporean man has been implicated in terrorism-related activities in the southern Philippines.

MARAWI, Philippines (AP) - Philippine fighter aircraft unleashed rocket fire against militants on Saturday, prompting villagers to hoist white flags to avoid being targeted as the military turned to airstrikes to try to end the siege of a southern city by Islamic State group-allied militants.

The fighting started when security forces launched a raid that failed to capture Isnilon Hapilon, one of Asia's most-wanted militants.

Duterte has warned that he might expand martial law nationwide, an unnerving prospect for many who lived through the rule of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

At least 44 people have died in the fighting, including 31 militants and 11 soldiers, officials said Thursday.

It was not immediately clear whether civilians were among the dead.

The discovery confirms days of speculation that Maute rebels had killed civilians during a bloody takeover of Marawi City, that the military believes is aimed at winning the Maute recognition from the Islamic State group in the Middle East as a Southeast Asian affiliate. "If you can not be convinced to stop fighting, so be it", Duterte said.

"During martial law, your commanders, you, you can arrest any person, search any house". "We suspect that, but we're still validating", he said.

"Right now, he is still inside (the city)", General Eduardo Ano said. "I'm just praying that the bullets will not find their way to my house and hit us".

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Westmincom chief, said the aerial strikes were surgical and receive precise information from ground troops before launching air to ground strikes. But soldiers have been going house-to-house to clear the city of militants.

"In as much as we would like to avoid collateral damage, these rebels are forcing the hand of government by hiding and holding out inside private homes, government buildings and other facilities", the military said in a statement. "We have to finish this".

In a sign that the long-standing problem of militancy in the south could be expanding, Solicitor General Jose Calida said foreigners are fighting alongside the gunmen in Marawi, including Indonesians and Malaysians.

But Wadi also said he did not believe the vast majority of local Muslims supported an IS caliphate, nor the group's brutal tactics that include mass beheadings of opponents.

Romeo Enriquez said he is fine, adding that there may have been confusion because a former Malabang police chief was killed in the fighting - but he was not beheaded. Enriquez has been in the job for about two months.

Militants forced their way into the Marawi Cathedral and seized a Catholic priest, 10 worshippers and three church workers, according to the city's bishop, Edwin de la Pena.

Mr Duterte has vowed to extinguish the threat of the militants, whom he has said belong to the local Maute terrorist group but are being backed by criminals in the area.

  • Leroy Wright