World Media

Most wanted Philippine militant Hapilon often evasive

Most wanted Philippine militant Hapilon often evasive

MARAWI CITY, Philippines Philippine armed forces helicopters fired guided rockets at Islamist militant positions on Saturday in an attempt to end a siege in the southern city of Marawi that has raged for five days.

The Marawi clashes prompted President Duterte's declaration of martial law in the entire Mindanao.

Also attacked were the Marawi City and the Malabang District jails where more than 100 inmates were freed. It was not clear whether civilians were among the dead. The violence forced thousands to flee and raised fears of growing extremism in the country.

On Friday, Duterte ordered his troops to crush the militants, warning that the country is at a grave risk of "contamination" by the Islamic State group.

When asked how many troops were deployed to Marawi City, Arevalo said for security reasons he can not give the exact number of figures.

A police chief in the southern Philippines says he's safe after Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte announced earlier that the chief had been beheaded.

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Military intelligence said the Maute brothers also had links to two of the region's most risky militants - Indonesian Ustadz Sanusi and Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan. If you fight us you will die.

Spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla reported that during the latest firefight, "12 members of the Maute group have been killed, half of them are foreigners". "I'm just praying that the bullets will not find their way to my house and hit us". The military says he is still wounded from a January air strike and the fierce Maute resistance is aimed at protecting him.

Ano predicted that the military operation will take about a week as soldiers go house to house to clear the city of militants.

"We are ready to issue rice to relief-giving agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Red Cross, and local government units anytime they would need it to distribute to the affected residents", said NFA administrator Jason Laureano Y. Aquino. "We have to finish this".

"There are foreigners who had always been in the country aiding in the terrorist activities", he added.

Ano said foreign fighters were believed to be inside, but he was more cautious. "We suspect that but we're still validating", he said.

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With much of Marawi a no-go zone, confusion reigned.

Mr Duterte himself disclosed that the police officer, identified as Senior Inspector Freddie Solar, was beheaded after he was nabbed at a checkpoint set up by the militants.

"They can run but they can't hide", he said, adding that it was only a matter of time before Hapilon is captured or killed". Enriquez has been in the job for about two months.

A photograph from one resident showed a black flag flying in Marawi that looked similar to that of Islamic State. They allowed many civilians to leave, although they had taken a Catholic priest hostage. He also heads an alliance that includes at least 10 smaller militant groups, including the Maute, which have a heavy presence in Marawi and were instrumental in fighting off government forces in this week's battles.

The Philippines had until this year denied it was home to groups with Islamic State ties.

The United States has since 2001 offered a bounty of $5 million for Hapilon's arrest. The Philippines is Asia's largest Roman Catholic nation, but its southern region has a large Muslim minority. Esperon said they are updating President Rodrigo Duterte, as reports arrive from the Philippines. PCID believes that the peaceful resolution of the armed conflict Marawi is needed, through tempered and calibrated responses that will prevent further casualties and damage to property and livelihoods.

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"As of this report, 31 terrorists were already neutralized and 6 high-powered firearms were recovered by the troops", said Brig.

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