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

Philippines President declares martial law on island


Newly arrived from Moscow, just hours after cutting short his diplomatic visit to Russia, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte stepped behind a lectern to explain his decision to declare martial law in the southern island of Mindanao.

The militants continued to occupy some sections of Marawi, an Islamic city in Lanao del Sur, he said.

"I hope they free them, including Fr. Chito and my wife and their companions, because they are innocent", he told Manila's DZMM radio.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared a 60-day period of martial law on Mindanao island, following clashes between the army and militants with links to Islamic State.

Hapilon reportedly has been chosen to lead an Islamic State group branch in Southeast Asia and is on the U.S. Department of Justice list of most-wanted terrorists worldwide, with a reward of up to $5 million for his capture.

The militants responded to the raid by burning buildings and conducting other diversionary tactics in Marawi, a mostly Muslim-populated city of 200,000 people, according to Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Duterte was in Moscow on a state visit, meeting with President Vladimir Putin to seek Russian arms when almost 50 gunmen stormed Marawi City, a town of about 200,000 people, burning houses and other buildings and killing at least two soldiers and one policeman. "Come see me before November, you are invited anytime", Trump said.

In this photo taken on August 30, 2016, shows Philippine soldiers taking their position as they serve as a blocking force, in the town of Paktikul, sulu province in southern island of Mindanao, as they carry out President Duterte's orders to "destroy" the militants.

Mr Duterte then mentions a Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, saying that other leaders are 'really nervous about the situation in the Korean peninsula'.

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On Wall Street, futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor's 500 index were up less than 0.1 percent. Germany's DAX was slipped 0.1 percent to 12,645.39 and France's CAC-40 held steady at 5,346.45.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) confirmed that a priest in Marawi City has been taken hostage, reported CNN Philippines.

A senior military official has claimed to have killed or wounded an undetermined number of militants.

A retired judge who was imprisoned when dictator Ferdinand Marcos put the country under the martial law in 1971 found no reason for President Duterte to put the Visayas and Luzon under the martial rule because of the Maute crisis in Marawi.

Hapilon, an Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher known for his expertise on commando assaults, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2014. The most recent is President Donald Trump telling his Philippine counterpart that Washington has sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, the New York Times said, comments likely to raise questions about his handling of sensitive information.

Duterte met late Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he is counting on Russia to supply weapons for the Philippines to fight terrorism.

Later Duterte said that martial law could last for as long as a year.

President Rodrigo Duterte during his arrival after his working visit to Russian Federation at NAIA on Wednesday.

Jones said the Maute group was sophisticated in its use of social media and was able to attract students and teachers from the Mindanao State University in Marawi.

The Philippines is a long-time American ally and former US colony but has been distancing itself from Washington since Duterte took office past year. "And tomorrow morning we are bringing in more troops from Zamboanga and Manila", he added.

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