Police chief beheaded and others killed by IS militants in Philippines

Elias Hubbard
May 27, 2017

The militants have torn through the streets of Marawi since Tuesday night, torching buildings, taking a priest and his worshippers hostage and sealing off much of the city.

Government troops conduct check point along a highway leading to Marawi three days after Muslim militants lay siege in Marawi city, the southern Philippines, Thursday, May 25, 2017.

On the same day, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Mindanao group of islands under martial law.

Duterte said a local police chief was stopped at a militant checkpoint and beheaded. He said there may have been confusion because a former Malabang police chief was killed in the fighting - but he was not beheaded.

The latest deaths raise the overall death toll to more than 40 from the urban fighting, which has sparked an exodus of Marawi residents and prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial rule in the country's restive south.

Two civilians were also killed inside a hospital that the gunmen had occupied on Tuesday, and the military was investigating reports that nine people had been murdered at a checkpoint the militants had set up, authorities said.

"Attack helicopters fired rockets in a precision attack", Herrera said.

Washington has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Hapilon's capture, but he has proved elusive.

Duterte pledged that martial law he declared late on Tuesday across the southern region of Mindanao - which makes up roughly one-third of the country and is home to 20 million people - would be "harsh".

The city of about 200,000 people was under attack by Muslim militants and people were packing into vehicles to flee the violence Thursday as army trucks rolled into the city center.

While pursuing peace talks with two large Muslim rebel groups in the south of this predominantly Roman Catholic nation, Duterte has ordered the military to destroy smaller extremist groups which have tried to align with the Islamic State group. Protest leader Teddy Casino warned that there might be more extrajudicial killings and human rights violations. The black flags of the Islamic State group were planted atop buildings and flown from commandeered vehicles, including a government ambulance and an armored auto, said Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr., vice governor of Lanao del Sur province.

The United States regards Hapilon as one of the world's most risky terrorists, offering a bounty of $5 million for his capture.

The fighting erupted on Tuesday after security forces raided a house where they believed Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the infamous Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom gang and Philippine head of IS, was hiding.

Gun battles between the government and extremist groups in Marawi City have left at least 7 people dead, the military confirmed Thursday, as it scrambled to verify reports of a terrorist-led jailbreak and the alleged massacre and abduction of civilians. The militants called for reinforcements from an allied group, the Maute, and some 50 gunmen managed to enter the city of Marawi. The city of Marawi was still largely sealed off Thursday, although automatic gunfire and explosions could be heard.

The raid went spectacularly wrong as dozens of gunmen emerged to repel the security forces, then went on a rampage across the city while flying black IS flags.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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