World Media

16 bodies found were civilians fleeing militants — Philippines military

16 bodies found were civilians fleeing militants — Philippines military

Philippine forces launched fresh airstrikes Sunday to drive out militants linked to the Islamic State group after days of fighting left corpses in the streets and hundreds of civilians begging for rescue from a besieged southern city.

Padilla says 61 militants have been killed together with 11 soldiers and four police since Tuesday, when a failed raid to capture one of Asia's top militants triggered an attack on the city.

The Marawi region is a stronghold of the hardline Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to so-called Islamic State (IS).

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

Most of the predominantly Muslim city's 200,000 residents have fled since the fighting began, but an estimated 2,000 people still remain cornered in areas controlled by the militants.

The military intensified a bombing campaign on parts of Marawi on Mindanao island, one of the biggest Muslim cities in the mainly Catholic nation, as it accused the gunmen of atrocities including murdering women and a child. But the recent violence has raised fears that extremism could be growing as smaller militant groups unify and align themselves with the Islamic State group. Padilla said that there were 42 body counts on the slain terrorists, while 19 were based on eyewitness accounts. "Hence, it is now increasingly becoming necessary to use more surgical airstrikes to clear the city and to bring this rebellion to a quicker end".

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Abbas has previously demanded a freeze on settlement construction before returning to the negotiating table. Muslims historically have been divided mostly between the Shiites and the much larger sect of Sunnis.

Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that combat operations were still going on, but that the militants were weakening. The bodies of four other men, three women and a child were found near a road close to Mindanao State University in Marawi. "There is no other option and choice", the group said in a statement Sunday. Near their bodies was a cardboard sign that said, "Munafik", which can mean hypocrite traitor.

Duterte and military chiefs have said most of the fighters belong to the local Maute group, which they estimate has about 260 armed followers. The military has earlier said that some of dead militants are foreigners from neighboring countries.

Bodies of what appeared to be executed civilians were found in a ravine outside a Marawi on Sunday as the crisis took a more sinister turn.

"Their refusal to surrender is holding the city captive".

"I will hire you as soldiers - same pay, same privileges, and I will build houses for you in some areas", Duterte said, according to a video of his speech made available on Sunday. If you rape three (women), I will say that I did it.

Troops on the streets of Marawi fired at Maute snipers as smoke poured out of several buildings.

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Tens of thousands of people have fled Marawi since Tuesday, when militants went on the rampage seizing a school, a hospital, and a cathedral, where Christians were taken hostage, according to church leaders.

Last Friday, Duterte also said that searches and arrests can be carried out without any warrants.

The latest comment prompted a storm of protest on social media.

"Isis is already here", Duterte said, adding that its aim was to create a new caliphate or "wilayat" (province). "It's important to keep pointing that out & that rape is never a joke". Surveys have consistently shown that Duterte and his drug war enjoy wide popular support.

President Donald Trump invited Duterte to the Oval Office, calling him a "good man". Let us not allow press freedom to be another casualty of Duterte's martial law. "Thus he has no tolerance for human rights, which stand in the way of authoritarianism".

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