City siege was start of extremist plan — Philippine military

Cheryl Sanders
May 31, 2017

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.

Padilla received the information from Brigadier General Custodio Parcon of the Philippine Marines. A cardboard sign that was tied to one of the bodies said "Munafik", which means hypocrite or traitor.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the whole island of Mindanao on May 23 while on an official visit to Russian Federation following the attacks by the terror group.

Padilla said the military hoped to finish the operation within 60 days.

"We are giving those inside an opportunity to surrender".

The militants took a Catholic priest and up to 14 other people hostage at the start of the crisis, and their fate remains unknown.

More than 100 people have been confirmed killed in the fighting.

It was not clear when the video was taken or who released it online, but it appeared to have been made under duress.

On Tuesday, the military said it has control of most of Marawi and the militants were on the run.

The gunmen are being backed by foreign fighters, including Malaysians, Indonesians and Singaporeans, authorities have said.

"We can not verify it yet".

Southeast Asian fighters fleeing the Middle East "could look to Mindanao to provide temporary refuge as they work their way home", said a report late previous year by the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, predicting a high risk of regional violence.

Philippine National Police Chief Ronald de la Rosa said the operation takes time because the gunmen take advantage of the urban environment, moving quickly from building to building to evade capture. "Rescue of trapped residents and recovery of civilian casualties, victims (are ongoing)", he added.

"Food is running out, water is running out, they don't have electricity", Martin Thalmann, the deputy head of the ICRC's Philippine delegation who is in Marawi, told AFP.

"T$3 hey were land-mined [and] were ambushed".

But some of those who've been left behind say they choose to stay.

The tank lost one wheel and fell in a gutter.

"We are in a state of emergency", Duterte said Wednesday.

The wounded cops are still alive, he said.

The death toll looked likely to climb, with soldiers reporting the smell of corpses in a public market still being held by the militants.

Thousands of residents remained trapped and are fearful that they will be killed in the fighting.

The killings were supposedly done by the local Maute group, which is also known as the Islamic State of Lanao.

The government believes the Maute carried out their assault before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to capture the attention of Islamic State and earn recognition as a Southeast Asian affiliate.

"More than 90 per cent of the Philippines" 100 million people is Christian, but in Marawi Muslims are in the majority.

Over the weekend, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte suggested he would be open to tapping nationalist rebel groups which recently signed peace deals with the government as reinforcements in the fight against ISIS.

A view of the Maute group stronghold with an ISIS flag in Marawi City in southern Philippines May 29, 2017.

Padilla said the military was aware of the video.

Duterte said Saturday he was prepared to enforce martial law for as long as was necessary to end the terrorist threat.

Other reports by iNewsToday