Philippines puts city on lockdown over fears of militant infiltration

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Philippine forces said they're in control of most of Marawi, the southern city where nearly 100 people were killed and 60,000 displaced following clashes in the past week between the military and Muslim extremists linked to Islamic State. Most residents of the city have fled, but the AP reported that more than 2,000 were still trapped in the city.

Philippine forces control most of a southern city where militants linked to the Islamic State group launched a bloody siege almost a week ago, authorities said Monday, as the army launched airstrikes and went house-to-house to crush areas of resistance.

The military earlier said the terrorists had killed 19 civilians in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

Zia Alonto Adiong, a politician coordinating efforts to evacuate civilians, said several civilians who remain in Marawi despite the clashes were without food and wanted the military to stop air strikes.

"They say after 60 days I should go to congress, I don't know", he said, according to the AFP (via Channel News Asia).

The Maute group's ability to fight off the military for so long will add to fears that Islamic State's radical ideology is spreading in the southern Philippines and it could become a haven for militants from Indonesia, Malaysia and beyond.

Only small areas of Marawi remain under militants' control after six days of fighting, said Brig.

When asked about fears of civilians being bombed, Padilla told reporters that air strikes would be done with precision, but said bombings would continue in whichever areas the fighters were hiding.

He said some rebels had been caught trying to get into Iligan, but did not give details.

On Sunday, Philippine forces said they found corpses in the streets, including at least eight civilians who appeared to have been executed by militants.

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Police said they were carpenters pulled off an evacuation convoy by militants because they were unable to cite verses from the Koran.

Jones said the Maute group was sophisticated in its use of social media and was able to attract students and teachers from the Mindanao State University in Marawi.

The clashes began on May 23 leading the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, to place the southern island Mindanao under martial law as government forces counterattacked insurgent Islamist militant groups, including Maute, which has pledged alleged to the ISIS terrorist group ("Islamic State in Iraq and Syria").

Acting on reports that militants were disguising themselves as evacuees in order to sneak out of Marawi, security forces cut the passage to nearby Iligan City. In moving to nab Hapilon, government troops underestimated the strength of the militants protecting him, and the raid went awry.

"Our authority there could not reach [the area], it may take time to verify whether the person in question [the victim] was an Indonesian or not". There was no word on their condition.

Both Maute and Abu Sayyaf have sworn allegiance to ISIS and carry black flags similar to those carried by ISIS.

President Duterte made the declaration following a deadly gun battle between government forces and the ISIS-linked Maute group. Until today, nearly a week later, there are still conflicting reports on the Marawi crisis, on the Maute group and the AFP involvement, on the actual number of casualties and victims, and on the whole impact of military rule on the communities in Mindanao.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday he expects clearing operations in Marawi City to be completed by June 1.

His stature - as confirmed by the Maute group's coming to his aid, along with a $5 million U.S. government bounty for information that would lead to his capture or conviction - is likely based on his ties to foreign jihadis and other ISIS-linked groups in the region, IPAC said in the report past year.

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