Published: Thu, May 25, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Churchgoers, Priest Taken Hostage in Philippines Besieged City

Churchgoers, Priest Taken Hostage in Philippines Besieged City

Duterte cut short a visit to Russian Federation and placed the southern island of Mindanao under martial rule on Tuesday after a fierce bout of fighting erupted during a raid by security forces at a hideout of Islamic State-linked militants.

President Donald Trump told Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte that he was "doing an fantastic job" with his brutal drug war crackdown and informed him that the US had two submarines off the Korean peninsula, according to a recently-released transcript of the two leaders' phone call last month.

Duterte declared martial law Tuesday night after the Maute terrorist group seized the Islamic city of Marawi.

Some buildings were burned down: the St. Mary's Church, the city jail, the Ninoy Aquino School, and the Dansalan College.

"The chief of police in Malabang on his way home, going back he was stopped by a checkpoint manned by terrorists and I think they decapitated him right then and there", the president said.

Critics chided Duterte for what they saw as an overreaction in declaring martial law for two months on the southern island, which is the size of South Korea and the second biggest in the Philippines, after an incident in one city.

Although, he was able to meet with Russia's Vladimir Putin before he left, rescheduling the encounter from Thursday to Tuesday, in light of events on his home soil.

"Our country needs modern fight against the Islamic State group we need weapons", Duterte said in Moscow. The US government is offering a US$5 million (RM21.48 million) bounty for his capture.

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The president also said that martial law in Mindanao will be similar to what late leader Ferdinand Marcos applied in the nation.

Lorenzana said more troops from Zamboanga and Manila will be coming to Marawi, while also claiming that the government was in full control of Marawi. "Declaring martial law will only invite more atrocities, invite more young people to join the rebels", he said.

The announcement, made by his spokesman at a press conference in Moscow where Duterte was on an official visit, fulfills an often-repeated warning by the president that he would enforce military rule to quell security threats.

Duterte acted after security forces yesterday battled dozens of gunmen in Marawi, a city of about 200,000 people.

The gunmen are believed to be members of the local Islamist group Maute, that has professed allegiance to the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) militia.

It has been blamed for a bombing that killed 15 people in southern Davao city, Duterte's hometown, last September and a number of attacks on government forces in Lanao.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the military succeeded in rescuing almost 42 teachers who were trapped inside a building after the Maute group attack on Marawi city, ABS-CBS news reported. Troops found homemade bombs, grenades, combat uniforms and passports of suspected Indonesian militants in the camp, the military said.

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