Duterte to extremists: No talks even if you kill hostages


It comes as Philippine government troops have been intensifying their battle against ISIS-linked rebels in the city of Marawi in Mindanao. More than 70 soldiers were wounded.

But Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, the spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told a news conference at the Malacanang presidential palace that the Friday deadline to flush out militants in Marawi cannot be achieved.

REGIONAL intelligence has revealed there are over 1,200 Islamic State (IS) fighters now fighting in the Philippines, a number that far outstrips the government's own estimate of 250 to 400.

He said the remaining terrorists had occupied vantage points in the three villages from where they could quickly spot approaching government forces.

Brigadier General Restituto Padilla told a news conference that the militants now held less than 10 percent of the city, but that meeting Duterte's deadline was not easy.

Up to 50 gunmen continued to control downtown Marawi almost two weeks later with at least 15 hostages including a Catholic priest, with some being used as human shields, the military said.

"We are determined to end this problem as soon as possible and cause the return of Marawi back to its citizens within this period, especially Ramadan", the AFP spokesperson said.

Authorities said they were taken by surprise when many gunmen emerged to protect Hapilon and then went on a rampage through Marawi, which has a population of 200,000. "We do not know what the army will do and how the terrorists will react". Abu Sayyaf has long carried out kidnappings for ransom, gaining notoriety for beheading foreigners.

Islamic State flags around Marawi have been spotted by media. Early Friday morning, when shooting was reported at a casino in Manila, the capital, many Filipinos - and President Trump - jumped to the conclusion that it was an act of terrorism. The elder sister said they secretly communicated with government rescuers by mobile phone text messages through their ordeal, and made their break for freedom when informed the gunmen had been driven away from the bridge.

Indeed, Duterte told the troops that his administration is facing "pockets of rebellion everywhere", referring to the Muslim extremist groups and the communist rebels.

More than 224,000 residents of the city and nearby towns have fled the fighting, the provincial government said Monday. Very young boys reportedly fight with the Islamists, apparently receiving payment.

The petitioners said Congressional leaders and the majority of lawmakers allied with Duterte were derelict in their constitutional duty by refusing to convene a joint session of Congress to vote whether or not to revoke the martial law proclamation. "I was surprised how long they have been able to sustain it".

"My figure is 250 to 400", he was quoted saying. "We need wisdom to be watchful and vigilant, to be prayerful of course and continue to pray that there would not be any attack to churches that will create another reaction and the whole situation would be out of control".

"This equipment will enhance the (Philippine Marines") counterterrorism capabilities, and help protect (troops) actively engaged in counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines, ' a U.S. embassy statement said. "And it's just not".