Islamist militants kill 19 in south Philippines: army

Islamist militants kill 19 in south Philippines: army

Islamist militants kill 19 in south Philippines: army

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

The Amaq news agency, a propaganda arm of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), posted an Arabic advisory, claiming the ISIS-sanctioned attack.

According to the Mail Online, members of the militant so-called Maute group murdered the nine individuals by a check-point in Marawi City after they were identified as Christians.

Hapilon, who is also wanted by the United States, was the target of Tuesday's attempted raid in Marawi, but was not captured.

Filipino activist holds a slogans with a picture of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as they oppose his declaration of martial law during a rally in Manila, Philippines on Friday.

"Duterte declared martial in Mindanao for 60 days to clampdown on the clear threats to human security-Islamist terrorism, communist insurgency, syndicated crime and ecological destruction", Alunan said. He said this amid concerns that martial rule in Mindanao would lead to human rights abuses similar to what thousands suffered during the Marcos regime, when many victims were tortured and raped.

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Duterte said a local police chief was stopped at a militant checkpoint and beheaded.

In another area of the city, soldiers who were also on clearing operations were able to rescue 16 civilians upon reaching Brgy Kilala, Marawi City. At least four people, including a priest, were reportedly seized by militants of the terrorist group.

He said some civilians refused to evacuate because they want to guard their homes, which is slowing down the government operations.

Ano also said foreign fighters were believed to be inside, but he was more cautious.

"Don't trust those human rights (critics), if you do, I will cut off both your heads", Duterte said.

Hapilon was reported severely wounded in the series of military operations in Lanao Del Sur early this January. "We can do that easily", Ano said, but added it was more hard in an urban setting because of the need to avoid civilian casualties.

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Padilla specified that social media would be subject to censorship, warning people against posting material that breached the conditions."That's why we are appealing to you now while there's still time, to exercise your common sense", he said.

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

Duterte had repeatedly threatened to place the region under martial law, which allows him to use the armed forces to carry out arrests, searches and detentions more rapidly.

He said the group erected Islamic State flags at several locations.

Much of Marawi remains a no-go zone, but disturbing details have emerged. "Hence, it is now increasingly becoming necessary to use more surgical air strikes to clear the city and to bring this rebellion to a quicker end", he said in a text message to PNA.

The southern Philippines has been troubled by decades-long Muslim separatist uprisings in the predominantly Catholic nation. "In numerous instances where their camps have been overtaken by our troops, there is evidence of the presence of drug paraphernalia, particularly with this Maute Group, such that our soldiers have been reporting that they've been fighting suicidally, meaning, without any regard for their own safety and like zombies".

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