100 dead, executed in anti-IS battle in Philippines

Claudine Rigal
Mai 30, 2017

ILIGAN, PHILIPPINES One of Asia's most-wanted militants is still hiding out in a city in the southern Philippines where government forces backed by armored vehicles and helicopters are battling gunmen linked to the Islamic State group, the country's military chief said Friday.

Marawi (philippines), May 28 Islamist militants locked in street-to-street battles with security forces in a southern Philippine city have killed 19 civilians, the military said today, bringing the official death toll from almost a week of fighting to at least 85.

The Maute seized parts of Marawi City on the southern island of Mindanao last week.

"We implore [Duterte] to cease immediately the airstrikes but to employ land attacks with the help of local military and police so that civilians will be protected and escorted to evacuation centers", the Ulamas said in a statement to reporters. "And we're trying to isolate all these pockets of resistance".

"All terror groups are opposed by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-New People's Army (NPA)", Luis Jalandoni, the Maoist-led rebel group's chief peace negotiator, told domestic broadcaster ANC from the Netherlands.

Hapilon is an Islamic preacher and former commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2014.

All these groups are inspired by the Islamic State group, but so far there is no sign of significant, material ties.

The military's estimates of the size of the rebel force and the extent of its occupation have fluctuated each day. We have complete control of the city by the way contrary to what is coming out in social media and other information.

While Indonesia has been fighting local militants since 2002, the rise of the Islamic State group has breathed new life into those militant networks and raised concern about the risk of Indonesian fighters returning home from the Middle East. A photograph taken by a resident shows 10 men carrying assault rifles and dressed entirely in black.

A Reuters photographer saw an Islamic State flag in an oil drum in an abandoned street on Monday, where chickens roamed in front of damaged shops and homes.

Jose Calida, the top Philippine prosecutor, said last week that Indonesians and Malaysians were among the fighters in Marawi, and that the violence on the large southern island of Mindanao "is no longer a rebellion of Filipino citizens".

Security forces traded heavy gunfire with Islamist militants inside a southern Philippine city on May 29, as fears grew for up to 2,000 people unable to escape a week of fighting that has left women and children among the dead.

Some troops tried to eliminate Maute snipers on Monday as others guarded deserted streets, taken back block-by-block.

Officials say they remain confident that they'll take the city soon, however, saying they believe the militants are low on ammunition and food.

'The anticipation of death is worse than death itself, ' he said in a television interview.

"We have not seen any concrete evidence of material support from IS", military spokesman Brig. "We suspect there must be more who arrived separately", said a Manila-based intelligence official to Sunday Mail. "We have highly skilled and trained pilots delivering the payload".

Eight bodies were found yesterday dumped off a bridge on the outskirts of Marawi, which is normally a bustling city of 200,000 people known as a centre of Islamic culture and education. The black flags of the Islamic State group were planted atop buildings and flown from commandeered vehicles, including a government ambulance and an armored auto, said Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr., vice governor of Lanao del Sur province, of which Marawi is the capital.

He made an unconventional offer on Saturday to Muslim separatists and communist rebels to join his fight against extremists, and said he would give them the same pay and benefits as government troops.

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