Philippines says militants shot dead at least 16 civilians

The tough-talking Filipino president was on a five-day trip to Moscow, when news broke out that the Maute, an armed group affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), laid siege to the city of Marawi, the biggest urban centre in the Muslim-majority provinces of the Philippines.

Two thousand fearful civilians were trapped on Sunday (May 28) inside a southern Philippine city where troops are battling Muslim militants, authorities said, as the death toll from nearly a week of fighting neared 100.

In a statement, Dominguez said the country's solid macroeconomic fundamentals continued to buoy the local bourse and the peso despite President Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

"Based on various verified intelligence reports from the AFP and the PNP, there exists a strategic mass action of lawless armed groups in Marawi City, seizing public and private facilities, perpetrating killings of government personnel, and committing armed uprising against and open defiance of the government", it said.

In Manila, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the government has secured the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (LASURECO) compound, and that power in almost all of Marawi City has been restored.

Some civilians refused to evacuate because they want to guard their homes, slowing down the government operations, he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, May 24, Duterte warned that he might expand the implementation of martial law nationwide if threats from the the Islamic State terrorist group persists.

Abdurahman Asmawi from Kelantan and Dr Kamsa Yahya from Kedah, the two reported victims, were killed while fighting alongside Islamic State-linked Maute group who besieged Marawi - a southern city of some 200,000 people.

At least 48 people have died in the fighting, including 35 militants and 11 soldiers, officials say, adding that an unspecified number of civilians are feared to have died. It was not clear whether civilians were among the dead.

Hapilon's group has received a "couple of million dollars" from the Islamic State group, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters without elaborating Friday.

In his speech to the troops, Duterte said said ISIS "is here already" and flying its flags. The clashes between Filipino government troops and the Islamist militants have been deadly.

"The government's average maturities is over 10 years and we have declining vulnerability to foreign exchange shocks with only 34.2 percent share of FX debt to total", De Leon said. Hapilon is still hiding out in the city under the protection of gunmen who are desperately trying to find a way to "extricate" him, the country's military chief said.

"We exhort everyone to be calm in the face of Martial Law, to be obedient to the just commands of lawful authority, and not to provoke violent reaction", he added. The group, formed in 2012, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 2015. Hapilon has also suffered a mild stroke, he said.

"Our Muslim soldiers, for now, need to give their share of sacrifices in order to make sure that Muslims from Marawi can soon go back to their homes and observe Ramadan", Galvez said.

"Right now, he is still inside (the city)", Gen. Eduardo Ano told the AP.

And he urged the soldiers to take tough measures, such as arresting anyone or searching any house. "These terrorists are anti-people", Herrera said.

Malaysians, Indonesians and other foreigners were among the guerrillas killed on Thursday, which the government said demonstrated how the Philippines could become a haven for overseas militants.

The militants' violence began after a failed army and police raid to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a local Islamist leader.

  • Leroy Wright