Philippines Issues Extremists in Marawi an Ultimatum — Surrender or Die

Cheryl Sanders
June 6, 2017

Philippine forces pressed their.

He said the fighting in Marawi, along with smaller battles elsewhere in the southern Philippines, may be precursors to declaring a province, which would be "a huge success for the terrorists".

The priest was taken hostage by the Islamist Maute group in the Muslim-dominated Marawi city, where troops have been mounting an offensive against militants. Philippine forces pressed their off.

Government troops head to the frontline as fighting with Muslim militants in Marawi city enters its second week, Tuesday, May 30, 2017, in the southern Philippines.

President Rodrigo Duterte has imposed martial law in the area and told troops that he will protect them if they commit abuses during the conflict, including rape, leading to an outcry from rights activists and some lawmakers.

The militants also took a priest and up to 14 other people hostage at the start of the crisis.

Bishop Peña said he was allowed to speak with Fr. Suganob at the time in order to help make their demands clear.

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 past year by the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, predicting a high risk of regional violence.

"We still want to live for another day, a month and a few years, please consider us Mr President."

Padilla said security forces now does not have exact number of terrorists now fighting in Marawi City.

The violence that broke out on May 23 on the southern island left nearly 100 people dead, the military said. De la Pena said he could not tell where in Marawi the video was made. "We were afraid the gunmen would come in and kill us", she said, adding they were also scared of being hit by military bombs.

"I asked them, 'Are we already in the critical level?'And there was an nearly a unison and redundant even statements that delikado tayo sa Mindanao given the practice of the ISIS in the Middle East", he said. "If the air strikes continue, they will really be in danger". Later the Cathedral and other churches in the city were torched, and the city has been taken over by the jihadists.

The violence erupted in the moments after a failed attempt by security forces to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of a radical faction of another extremist group, who the government believes is Islamic State's point-man in the Philippines.

The Islamic gunmen have held the Philippine army at bay, burning buildings, taking at least a dozen hostages and sending tens of thousands of residents fleeing. Authorities were working to confirm that another top militant had been killed.

Zia Alonto Adiong, a politician involved in efforts to evacuate residents, said people are anxious they could be intercepted by the jihadists if they tried to flee.

Some communities resemble ghost towns. Helicopters frequently buzzed overhead and sporadic gunfire and blasts shattered the eerie silence.

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

"Because they are all the same, all the bodies we have recovered all have the same faces, and there were identifications so we still have to [identify] them", said Padilla. Mindanao has a significant Muslim population, though the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country.

The military however insists the drawn-out fight in Marawi is not a true sign of the militants' strength, and that they even held back to spare civilian lives. Ano said the gunmen were prepared to fight due to their Ramadan attack plot.

Still, the Maute fighters have turned out to be remarkably well-armed and resilient. The dead include 89 militants, 19 civilians and 21 government forces, Padilla said.

"The current focus of the operation remains: clearing of Marawi of militants still in the area; rescue of trapped residents; and recovery of civilian casualties and victims", said Abella.

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