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Strife-Torn City Hit by Blasts on Philippines Independence Day

13 Juin 2017

"They can take all measures to prevent and suppress all acts of rebellion and lawless violence, including seeking technical assistance from the United States, within the limits prescribed by the Constitution", he said.

The Philippine leader has declared martial law for the entire island of Mindanao, which has been beset by homegrown Muslim insurgency for decades. "I refuse to believe that it is religion that fueled this war", he said.

The Philippines army said on Friday it had called on Facebook to shut down dozens of accounts that Islamist militants have been using to spread misinformation about their attack on a southern town and to coordinate their battle with security forces.

A security official who requested anonymity told the Manila Standard that IS-inspired extremists were planning terror attacks in Davao City, some areas of Maguindanao and Cotabato City, as well as the cities of Zamboanga, Lamitan and General Santos.

"Just like what happened in Mosul, where (Abu Bakr) al-Baghdadi occupied Mosul June 2014, it was also the first day of Ramadan", Año said last Friday.

Villager Janisah Ampao, who fled her home with her husband and two children when the fighting broke out last month, felt a sense of relief and pride when she saw the flag being raised at the provincial capital building.

"I did not realize that it was that bad because now it appears that Baghdadi himself, the leader of the ISIS, has specifically ordered terroristic activities here in the Philippines", Duterte said, without elaborating.

Cayetano said the Indonesian foreign minister proposed a dialogue on how radicalization can be solved on a regional scale. "I never approached any American to say that "please help us", he said.

"But the president knew at the start of his term that, as the allies become more successful in Syria and Iraq, they (ISIS) will be looking for a land base, and Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines will be a potential target to them".

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The crisis in Marawi, an Islamic city in the predominantly Christian nation, has overshadowed the country's Independence Day celebrations.

Thousands of soldiers, advised by US Special Forces, are locked in fierce combat with hundreds of insurgents who overran Marawi City on May 23, flying black flags of the Islamic State group and using up to 2,000 civilians as human shields.

The US Embassy in Manila has confirmed that Americans stationed in Zamboanga City have been helping the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in identifying the location of the Maute fighters.

The government earlier said that the unrest had left 20 civilians, 134 militants and 39 government troops dead. It's unclear how many people remain trapped in Marawi as government troops battle Muslim militants led by the so-called "Maute" group but army officers have put the figure this week at anywhere from 150 to 1,000.

But the military has struggled to defeat the heavily armed gunmen, who have used hostages and preexisting bomb-proof tunnels to entrench their positions.

"He doesn't feel like giving a toast, even symbolic, when soldiers are dying and the evacuees and the displaced are in the provinces and in Marawi's margins", Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told reporters.

On Sunday, the region's military chief, Lt. -Gen.

On Sunday the region's military chief, Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, told a news conference that the fight would be "most hard, deadly, bloody, and it will take days and months to clear up".

A spokesperson for the Philippines military asserted on Saturday that USA military forces were providing logistical and reconnaissance support, but have no "boots on the ground", according to Reuters, confirming a Pentagon statement that United States involvement in the fight was requested by an unnamed agency within Duterte's government.