Philippine forces make gains in southern city under siege

Philippine forces make gains in southern city under siege

But Acmad Aliponto, a 56-year-old court sheriff who decided not to flee the city, said that while the militants were well-armed, he believes they have little local support, and that the recent violence could turn more people against them.

Authorities say some 2,000 people remain trapped in the city and fear that they would be killed by the militants if they attempted to leave.

"I have to rescue my grandfather even at the risk of my life", Khana-Anuar Marabur Jr. said after police stopped him for speeding through a checkpoint.

Residents have been sending appeals for help via text message, but rescue teams have not been able to penetrate the districts where they are located, said Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesman for the local province of Lanao Del Sur.

According to ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, the incursion of the local terror group Maute and some elements of the Abu Sayyaf into Marawi has inflicted enormous sufferings to residents in the city.

The ability of the Maute group to fight off the military for so long will add to fears that Islamic State's radical ideology is spreading in the southern Philippines, and it could become a haven for militants from Indonesia, Malaysia and beyond.The military believes the Maute carried out their assault before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to capture the attention of Islamic State and earn its recognition as a Southeast Asian affiliate.

Aguirre said the SC would be rendered "powerless" once Congress affirmed the validity of Duterte's declaration of martial law in the entire Mindanao, amid the ongoing clashes between government troops and Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City. Gen. Restituto Padilla, the military spokesman. "We're trying to isolate all these pockets of resistance".

"I can not give operational details, but I am sure they are also human, they will also get exhausted", he said.

The crisis has claimed the lives of 19 civilians, 18 government troops and 61 extremists, according to presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, making it the worst in the Mindanao region in nearly four years.

On Sunday, Philippine forces said they found corpses in the streets, including at least eight civilians who appeared to have been executed by militants.




Mangadang said the eight men were bakers and carpenters who were evacuating to Iligan, a city near Marawi, but were intercepted by the militants.

May 25 citied reports from the social welfare offices of Marawi and Iligan on the following evacuation centers: Provincial Capitol in Marawi with estimated 1,000 persons; Mindanao State University campus with estimated 1,000 students; the vicinity of Marawi City Hall with 325 employees and others; poblacion gym of Saguiaran with 811 families; Baloi Sumampong Gym with 300 families; Buruun School of Fisheries in Iligan City with seven families; and MSU-IIT Iligan with nearly 300 students from MSU Marawi.

On Tuesday, Duterte imposed 60 days of martial law in the southern Philippines as government forces battle militants in Mara.

Heavy clashes erupted in Marawi last Tuesday after a botched mission to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.

Police patrol the streets of Marawi city as government troops battle with Muslim militants who continue to hold their ground in some areas of the city for nearly a week Monday, May 29, 2017 in southern Philippines. There was no word on their condition.

Authorities are now concerned that Maute militants - who have pledged allegiance to Daesh - are blending in with the evacuees in Iligan and could launch terrorist attacks there. The fighters traveling with Hapilon requested reinforcements from the Maute Group, turning a small firefight into a full-scale battle.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law on May 23 as insurgents in Marawi with Islamic State flags burned buildings, occupied offices and freed more than 100 inmates from jail.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday he expects clearing operations in Marawi City to be completed by June 1.

Washington has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Hapilon's capture.

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