Philippine troops battle IS-linked gunmen in southern city

"I have to do it to preserve the republic".

Dionardo Carlos said that the terrorists being hunted down by government forces in Marawi City are members of the local Maute terror group.

Early Tuesday, Twitter was flooded with reports that ISIS was ceasing control of a city in the Philippines.

The President's scheduled bilateral meetings with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev "will be postponed", Mr. Cayetano said, adding that Mr. Duterte will likely talk to the two Russian officials via phone. "The agreements will be signed", Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.

Police said the May 6 blast was sparked by a personal feud, but the Islamic State group claimed its fighters were responsible.

Duterte's martial law declaration will help government forces carry out searches and arrests and detain rebel suspects more quickly, Lorenzana said. "Please do not believe propaganda from other groups", Padilla said.

The emergency measures were announced by President Rodrigo Duterte as bloody gun battles continue in Marawi City.

At least 21 people have died in the fighting, officials said.

The focus of the raid was about 15 militants belonging to the Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State in the Middle East.

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What is troubling the security apparatus is that radical elements of another IS-linked group, Abu Sayyaf, appear to be collaborating with Maute, far from its island strongholds of Basilan, Jolo and Tawi Tawi, all off Mindanao.

Most of the people of Lanao del Norte made a decision to remain in Marawi City (population: 200,000) "to protect their homeland from destruction" urging local leaders, peace advocates and the warring parties to spare Marawi City.

Arevalo said troops had cleared militants from a hospital, the city hall and Mindanao State University.

Troops sealed off major entry and exit points to prevent Hapilon from escaping, military chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Ano told The Associated Press late Tuesday.

The US and other Western governments warned this month that terrorists were planning to kidnap foreigners in other tourist hotspots in the western and central Philippines, adding to longstanding advisories of abduction threats in Mindanao.

"We received a report from the community, they saw armed men...we checked that this is the core group of Maute, so we launched a surgical operation to neutralize the group planning to incite terrorism in Marawi City", said Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera with the Philippines military. Hapilon was reportedly designated the leader of the alliance.

The government blamed the Maute for a bombing in a marketplace in Duterte's hometown of Davao in September 2016 which killed 14 people and wounded dozens.

Previous military offensives against the Maute, based in Lanao del Sur province, have lasted several days.


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