Published: Tue, June 06, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Two Malaysian militants killed in Mindanao battle

Two Malaysian militants killed in Mindanao battle

"If they insist on fighting, we can't do anything".

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.

Convoys of vehicles packed with evacuees and protected by soldiers streamed into Iligan.

The use for the first time of the heavy firepower came amid growing confidence that the location of the man believed to be the leader of the Islamic State-inspired fighters, Isnilon Hapilon, has been pinpointed in the city.

A government soldier in an armoured personnel carrier stands on guard at a checkpoint along a main highway in Pantar town, Lanao del Norte, after residents started to evacuate their hometown of Marawi city, southern Philippines May 24, 2017. The exodus of thousands of residents has continue.

"What's happening in Mindanao is no longer a rebellion of Filipino citizens", Solicitor General Jose Calida told reporters in explaining why martial law was imposed. It has transmogrified into an invasion by foreign terrorists who heeded the clarion call of the ISIS to go to the Philippines if they find difficulty in going to Iraq or Syria.

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

He defended his proclamation of martial law in Mindanao, saying it was necessary to root out the militants who attacked Marawi on Tuesday, burning buildings and taking some dozen hostages.

AFP spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, who was also at the press conference, confirmed that of the 31 alleged Maute Group members killed in clashes with government troops, 6 had been identified as foreigners.

One of his most important political allies, ex-president Fidel Ramos, said Friday that martial law across Mindanao was not justified, and called for it to be quickly revoked.

Romeo Enriquez, the still-living police Malabang chief, meanwhile said he has "shocked" to hear the president report him dead by decapitation.

He further said that the operation on Marawi was perhaps a revenge operation because a few days earlier on Tuesday when Duterte had just arrived in Moscow there was a failed raid on an Abu Sayaf leader. "I hope that the bombs will not land nearby and harm us".

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday delivered on his longstanding threat to impose martial law on Mindanao, the country's second-largest island, to stop the spread of radical Islam. Marawi has a population of around 200,000.

Duterte warned that the martial law in Mindanao "will not be any different" from the martial law declared by former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

But he has also indicated that martial law could be expanded to the rest of the country if he felt it was necessary, a potentially controversial move in a nation that spent nearly a decade under martial law under Ferdinand Marcos.

Hapilon, an Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher known for his expertise in commando assaults, pledged allegiance to IS in 2014.

The civic group said it will contact North Korea via email to try to provide North Korea with insecticides, diagnostic reagent kits and mosquito repellants and nets.

But he warned that the Maute group is risky and that Mindanao is being invaded by foreign fighters.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said the declaration is based on the recommendation of the joint police-military Task Force Zamboanga as "part of the stepped-up security measures" to ensure safety and protection of civilians. But he added that the smaller groups like the Maute "are working to really get that recognition and funds, of course".

The United States regards Hapilon as one of the world's most unsafe terrorists and offers a bounty of $5 million for his capture.

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