Published: Sun, May 28, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Duterte jokes about rape on visit to army base


"Together we pray for an end to the terrorism that falsely claims to advance Islam and seeks to subjugate our land to the brutal IS", Abella said in a statement.

Some civilians refused to evacuate because they want to guard their homes, slowing down the government operations, he said.

The little-known Maute group has staged similar, days-long sieges on Mindanao island but none on the scale of Marawi, where witnesses said flags resembling those of Islamic State had been flown and some men were wearing black headbands.

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

Fourteen civilians have been killed during the clashes, nine of them shot dead by Maute fighters.

Nevertheless, Duterte also indicated he would be willing open a dialogue with the Islamist militants. "And if you can not be convinced to stop fighting, so be it. Let's just fight".

"We are trying to use our maximum force", said Major General Carlito Galvez, who heads the military command in the Western Mindanao region.

"We're also focusing on house-to-house clearing of areas and rescuing trapped residents, " Gen Padilla told The Associated Press by phone from Manila, the capital.

"But for this martial law and the consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I and I alone would be responsible, just do your job, I will take care of the rest", Duterte said in a speech to troops in Iligan, a city near Marawi.

Ramadan in Saudi Arabia to Start Sunday May 27
To Mohammed, it's a time to look inward, and appreciate what Allah has given him. Pregnant and breastfeeding moms are also exempt, as well as elderly folks.

"You can say that ISIS is here already", he said. The military says he is still wounded from a January air strike and the fierce Maute resistance is aimed at protecting him.

The battle to clear the city of the gunmen was proving hard because they had scattered into small groups and were moving to different houses and setting up sniper positions, according to the military. "We have to finish this".

"President Duterte's bold and decisive action is imperative in quelling the rebellion in the region, halting the escalating inhumane atrocities by the extremists, as well as insuring our national security and the safety of Filipinos, and demonstrating the government's resolve in combating global terrorism", Valera said.

Another concern for the government was the discovery of foreign fighters with the Maute, among them Indonesians and Malaysians, suggesting what was once a domestic problem could mushroom into a larger regional security threat.

"We request the public to be patient in the measures that will have to be undertaken to ensure that we are doing and going in that direction", he said in reference to the establishment of checkpoints and the possible declaration of curfew hours in certain parts of Mindanao.

Much of Marawi remains a no-go zone, but disturbing details have emerged.

Although Hapilon and other groups in the southern Philippines have pledged allegiance to the IS, there is no clear sign of significant, material ties.

Hapilon, a leader of another Mindanao-based rebel group Abu Sayyaf, pledged allegiance to Islamic State past year and has formed an alliance with Maute.

Washington has offered a US$5 million ($7m) reward for information leading to Hapilon's capture.

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