How a botched raid led to martial law in the Philippines

Lawrence Kim
May 26, 2017

The Maute group, led by a group of brothers with links to the Middle East, "has the smartest, best-educated and most sophisticated members of all the pro-ISIS groups in the Philippines" according to a 2016 report by the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict.

Army officials said 13 fighters were killed Thursday by troops backed by rocket-firing helicopters in Marawi city, an important hub for the Islamic faith that now resembles a war zone. The militants burned buildings and took hostages.

MARAWI, PHILIPPINES Philippine government forces launched "precision attacks" Thursday to clear militants linked to the Islamic State group from a southern city that has been under siege since a raid to capture a militant on the US list of most-wanted terrorists failed.

"If I think that you should die, you will die", he said Wednesday.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in the southern region.

"I have to do it to preserve the Republic of the Philippines", said the president even as he asked Filipinos "not to be too scared". The violence sent thousands of people fleeing and raised fears of extremists gaining traction in the country. He added that he was willing to expand the state of martial law nationwide should the jihadists expand their reach.

An initial rampage by the gunmen, who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, through the mainly Muslim city of Marawi on Tuesday prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to impose martial law across the southern third of the Philippines.

He also said there will be curfews for some provinces in Mindanao, and that martial law will remain until the terrorism threat had ended.

Mr Duterte said the militants also beheaded a local police chief after capturing him at a road checkpoint they had set up.

Fr. Chito Suganob. From his Facebook page
Fr. Chito Suganob. From his Facebook page

Archbishop Socrates Villegas president, of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, told AP the militants forced their way into a cathedral and kidnapped a priest, 10 worshippers and three church workers. He said Wednesday he is anxious about his wife, a secretary at the cathedral, because she does not have her medicines for a heart problem.

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

The retired policeman said he and his wife had been texting and calling each other since the violence erupted Tuesday. "I'm going home. I will deal with the problem once I arrive".

Mayormita added he had not been able to contact his wife since then.

The operation was not a success as the militants called in reinforcements and swept through the mostly Muslim city of 200,000 people.

Russian Federation is fully committed to the agreements with the Philippines on stepping up cooperation in the fight against terrorism, Lavrov said at a meeting with Cayetano.

The prelate said the gunmen have used the hostages as "human shields" as fighting continued with security forces on May 24.

About 100 militants roamed Marawi city, killing five soldiers, taking hostage a priest and an unspecified number of other people from a church, setting fire to buildings and flying black ISIS flags, according to Mr Duterte and his aides.

Duterte has repeatedly threatened to place the south, the scene of decades-long Muslim separatist uprisings, under martial law, which allows him to use the armed forces to carry out arrest, searches and detentions more rapidly.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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