Philippines at a grave risk of "contamination" by Isis
- Author: Zachary Reyes May 30, 2017,
May 30, 2017, 1:01
Philippine forces say they now control most of a southern city where militants linked to the Islamic State group launched a bloody siege almost a week ago.
Smoke billows behind a mosque in a residential neighbourhood in Marawi City due to fighting between government soldiers and the Maute militant group, in southern Philippines May 28, 2017.
He said that Misuari sent him a letter, saying that MNLF fighters could volunteer to join the fighting in the city of Marawi and other parts of Lanao del Sur province.
The fighting erupted on Tuesday after security forces raided a house where they believed Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the infamous Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom gang and Philippine head of IS, was hiding.
"They have been sending us text messages, calling our hotline, requesting us to send rescue teams but we can not simply go to areas which are inaccessible to us", Mr Adiong said.
Authorities said ending the crisis was proving extremely hard because the militants were moving nimbly through homes, had planted bombs in the streets, and were holding hostages.
But Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the president will ultimately rely on advice from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in deciding whether to extend or lift it.
The president said the militants were planning to establish a caliphate for IS across all of Mindanao, home to 20 million people.
"Our forces are in complete control of the city, except for certain areas where they continue to hold".
It was unclear whether those eight were included in the military's count of civilian deaths. "Hence, it is now increasingly becoming necessary to use more surgical airstrikes to clear the city & to bring this rebellion to a quicker end".
About 100 people have died in the violence, including some civilians, although authorities were still trying to assess the scope of the bloodshed.
Duterte also attracted controversy when he said he wanted to rape an Australian missionary who had been caught up in a 1989 prison riot in the Philippines and murdered by the inmates.
The military says at least 11 government troops and 31 militants have been killed in the fighting.
Duterte said the militants belonged to the Maute group that has emerged only in recent years in Mindanao and gained strength on the proceeds of drug money.
"And that's the bothersome - before it was just a local terrorist group".
Three-fourths of Marawi City, a city of 200,000 on the southern island of Mindanao, has been overrun by the Islamic extremist Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf group, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said in a letter to the nation's congress on Friday. In one area, the bodies of eight men who appeared to have been executed by militants were found in a ravine, police said.
"An Indonesian citizen is married to a local and has lived in Marawi for a long time".
Hapilon is on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list; the US has offered a $5 million reward for his capture.