Priest and churchgoers kidnapped by IS militants in Philippines

Claudine Rigal
Mai 29, 2017

A paper sign attached to one of the men said "monafiq", which means traitor.

An ambulance was seen speeding away from the fighting and soldiers said a captured militant was inside. "Compared to the initial days, there has been increasingly less resistance from the militants within Marawi", he said, speaking by phone from the capital, Manila. But the recent violence has raised fears that extremism could be growing as smaller militant groups unify and align themselves with the ideology of the Islamic State group.

His spokesman, Ernesto Abella, released such a statement on Saturday explaining that Duterte was using "heightened bravado" when trying to raise the morale of the troops.

"Some have no food at all".

"The Supreme Court will say they will examine into the factual (basis)". "This is a conflict that has gone beyond proportion. The magnitude of the degree of the damage and the people that are's really massive".

But street-to-street battles and a military bombing campaign have failed to end the crisis in Marawi, one of the biggest Muslim cities in the mainly Catholic nation, and authorities expressed alarm about those trapped inside the militants' areas.

"They did not kill me because I was able to recite a Muslim prayer". The military said Maute has yet to be endorsed by Islamic State.

"We request the public to be patient in the measures that will have to be undertaken to ensure that we are doing and going in that direction", he said in reference to the establishment of checkpoints and the possible declaration of curfew hours in certain parts of Mindanao. "We hope his fellow bishops and other clergy follow his example for their parishes, and prioritize the peace and safety of the people", Abella added.

Islamic State's Amaq news agency claimed responsibility for the unrest, although that came more than a day after it started.

A city of 200,000 people, Marawi is mostly deserted, with officials saying "80-90 percent" of the population has been evacuated.

"Until the police and the armed forces say the Philippines is safe, this martial law will continue". Police on Sunday outlawed guns there and suspended all weapons permits.

Jo-Ar Herrera, a military spokesman, said 41 militants had been killed, with 10 deaths in heavy fighting on Friday.

A surveillance drone circled the sky above Marawi.

The bodies were discovered by advancing soldiers this weekend. The black flags of the Islamic State group were planted atop buildings and flown from commandeered vehicles, including a government ambulance and an armoured auto, said Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr., vice governor of Lanao del Sur province, of which Marawi is the capital. Scores of prisoners, among them militants, were freed when rebels took over two detention facilities.

The military is certain the Maute are protecting Hapilon and had narrowed down his location.

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

The little-known Maute group has staged similar, days-long sieges on Mindanao island but none on the scale of Marawi, where a martial law has been imposed since Tuesday.

The Maute group previous year killed 14 people in a bombing in the president's home city, and its battlefield capability has been a serious challenge to a military that has far greater numbers and firepower.

He said: "The government in the Philippines is acknowledging perhaps for the first time that foreign jihadists have been involved in this because some of those killed are including fighters from Indonesia and Malaysia".

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