Philippines urges militants to surrender

"They want to leave".

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which is trying to help those trapped, said people were dying from the extreme conditions and stray bullets.

"We believe they're now low on ammunition and food".

Who is the man who triggered the battle for Marawi?

"There is intense fighting with small arms".

Though most people have left, thousands are stranded, anxious they could be intercepted by militants at checkpoints on routes out of the city.

Troops in the Philippines have found the bodies of what appeared to be executed civilians outside a besieged city as fighting between the military and an Islamic State-linked group carries on in the south.

Philippines by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Philippines military has unleashed a series of air strikes in a push to regain full control of a largely Muslim city that was overrun last week by ISIS-affiliated fighters. The report said they witnessed the beheading of another hostage a day earlier. "The others were not so lucky", a visibly shocked Bandung said. "Hence, it is now increasingly becoming necessary to use more surgical airstrikes to clear the city and to bring this rebellion to a quicker end", Padilla added. "We found their bodies while conducting rescue operations [on Saturday]", regional military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jo-ar Herrera told the AFP news agency.

The fighters' support network in Marawi remains unclear, though the power of one militant group - the Mautes - has grown in recent years.

Troops walked behind tanks as they went down seemingly deserted streets, occasionally launching a barrage of automatic rifle fire after being shot at by snipers.

"61 Maute extremists, 20 government troops and 19 civilians were among the fatalities", Arevalo told reporters.

The violence erupted last Tuesday night when the government launched a raid to capture Isnilon Hapilon, who is on Washington's list of most-wanted terrorists. Marawi, a lakeshore city of minarets that is the centre of culture for the mainly Catholic Philippines' Muslim minority, is almost empty after gunmen wielding black flags of the Islamic State (IS) group went on a rampage last week. The fate of those hostages remained unknown.

"ISIS has publicly accepted pledges from various groups in the Philippines and has called on followers in Southeast Asia to go to the Philippines if they can not travel to Syria", an American intelligence official who spoke with the Washington Times on the condition of anonymity said.

"Get me out of here alive, not dead", one message said.

A member of Philippine Marines holds a weapon aboard a vehicle as more soldiers reinforce the fight in the southern Philippines.

Meanwhile, the main Muslim opposition groups have signed accords with the government, giving up their long-running separatist ambitions in return for autonomy. The fighters traveling with Hapilon requested reinforcements from the Maute Group, turning a small firefight into a full-scale battle.

Duterte last week said the 60-day period of martial law could be shortened, prolonged, or expanded nationwide depending on the situation, fueling fears of human rights abuses and summary killings, which were rampant during martial rule from 1972 to 1981.

  • Leroy Wright