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Isis Militants Storm Philippines City During Deadly Rampage

26 May 2017

The group 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, although it has faced setbacks from a series of military offensives.

Residents flee three days after Muslim militants lay siege in Marawi city in southern Philippines Thursday, May 25, 2017.

"While we value the need for transparency and the people's right to information, release of certain pieces of information, whether accurate or inaccurate, can affect national security and regional peace and stability", the DFA said in a released statement.

Authorities provided no details of civilian injuries and casualties, but said at least 31 soldiers were wounded in the attempt to rescue the hostages and escort civilians to safety.

Authorities have not reported any civilian casualties but the GMA television network showed images of nine people who had apparently been shot dead.

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Mr Duterte said on Wednesday that one of the policemen killed was caught at a checkpoint set up by the militants, before being beheaded.

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.

The extremist leader of the infamous Abu Sayyaf gang is regarded by the USA as one of the world's most risky terrorists due to his penchant for kidnapping and beheading westerners.

An initial rampage by gunmen through the mainly Muslim city of Marawi on Tuesday prompted president Rodrigo Duterte to impose martial law across the southern third of the Philippines.

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

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They also set fire to many buildings, including a church and a university.

In response, Duterte not only interrupted his trip to Russian Federation and declared martial law in the island of 22 million people - he suggested the possibility of expanding martial law nationwide.

"Anyone now holding a gun, confronting the government with violence, my orders are spare no one, let us solve the problems of Mindanao once and for all, " Duterte said Wednesday.

Almost a third of the country's population lives in Mindanao, a huge mostly Muslim island in a country dominated by the Roman Catholic faith.

Mr Duterte had said that it could take up to a year before martial law in Mindanao could be lifted, if such a length of time was required to stop terrorism in that country.

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But human rights groups and others have expressed fears that martial law powers could further embolden Duterte, who already has been accused of allowing extrajudicial killings of thousands of people in his crackdown on illegal drugs.