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Philippine leader asks separatists, Maoists to join fight against Islamic State

Philippine leader asks separatists, Maoists to join fight against Islamic State

Another group of victims included four men, three women and a child.

In one area, the bodies of eight men who appeared to have been executed by militants were found in a ravine, police said.

(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez). Philippine Armed Forces chief and martial law administrator Gen. Eduardo Ano talks to a soldier who was wounded while fighting Muslim militants who lay siege in Marawi city, during his visit to a hospital in Iligan city in so.

Arevalo stressed that recovering the casualties was not the government's priority, as the military focused on the rescue of civilians and containing the terror threat.

Zia Alonto Adiong, a local politician who is coordinating efforts to get people out of the city, said there were bodies of dead civilians in Marawi.

The crisis in Marawi, home to some 200,000 people, has raised fears that extremism is growing in the southern Philippines as smaller militant groups unify and align themselves with the Islamic State group.

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President Rodrigo Duterte, who declared martial law on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines on Tuesday night, vowed to crack down on local militants who have alleged links with ISIS and seek to carve out a caliphate out of Mindanao.

In a sign that the long-standing problem of militancy in the south could be expanding, Solicitor General Jose Calida said foreigners were fighting alongside the gunmen in Marawi, including Indonesians and Malaysians. "If it's over within a month, then I'd be happy", Duterte said in a video posted on Facebook by Mocha Uson, the assistant secretary to the Presidential Communications Operation Office. "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, said.

"The consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I and I alone would be responsible", he said.

Iligan City, 38 km (24 miles) away, was overflowing with evacuees and was on lockdown over fears that fighters had sneaked out of Marawi by blending in with civilians.

The violence began when dozens of gunmen went on a rampage throughout Marawi after security forces attempted to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, a veteran Filipino militant regarded as the local leader of ISIS.

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.

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"Duterte's martial law threatens military abuses in Mindanao that could rival the murderous "drug war" in urban areas", Mr Kine said.

Fierce battles took place on Sunday as ground troops engaged Maute fighters with heavy gunfire and artillery.

Hapilon, a senior member of the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for- ransom gang, is on the United States government's list of most-wanted terrorists.

More than 100 armed members of the Maute group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front and Abu Sayyaf group attacked the city on Tuesday.

"It started flying the flag of the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria in several areas, thereby openly attempting to remove from the allegiance to the Philippine government this part of Mindanao", Abella told reporters.

The Maute group was blamed for last year's bombing in the president's home city, Davao, which killed 14 people, and its battlefield capability has been a serious challenge to a military that has far larger numbers and firepower.

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