Maute Group kills 19 civilians in Marawi siege

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The Philippine military said on Sunday it had found the bodies of 16 civilians as troops tried to gain control over the Marawi, which has been under siege from ISIS-allied militants.

Clashes between government forces and militants had claimed the lives of 19 civilians, 11 military and four policemen, as of Sunday afternoon, according to a spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

"They can't leave because they are afraid of running into checkpoints put up by the gunmen".

In tandem to the military onslaught, the army was also carrying out rescues operations, freeing civilians trapped in jihadist-held areas and bringing them to safety.

Mr Duterte imposed martial law last week on Mindanao, an island of 22 million people where both Marawi and Iligan are located, to quell the unrest and wipe out militancy.

Duterte has said he would extend the martial law for as long as necessary to end the terrorist threat gripping the country.

With white flags to indicate they are non-combatants, displaced residents continue to flee to safer areas as government troops battle with Muslim militants Monday, May 29, 2017 in Marawi, southern Philippines.

"We can control who comes in and who comes out, who moves around and who doesn't, and we are trying to isolate these pockets of resistance that have remained", Padilla added.

When asked on Monday about fears of civilians being bombed, military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla told reporters that airstrikes would be done with precision.

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"I did receive the info [on] one casualty identified as an Indonesian, but a verification will be needed due to the chaotic situation in Marawi", Setyo said today at the National Police Building in Kebayoran Baru.

"They did not kill me because I was able to recite a Muslim prayer". Mr Duterte said Marawi is home to the Maute group, which is led by brothers who were former Manila cops and later became drug traffickers to fund their terrorism. A paper sign attached to one of the men indicated the victims "betrayed their faith", he said. Their bodies were found in a ravine outside Marawi.

May 25 citied reports from the social welfare offices of Marawi and Iligan on the following evacuation centers: Provincial Capitol in Marawi with estimated 1,000 persons; Mindanao State University campus with estimated 1,000 students; the vicinity of Marawi City Hall with 325 employees and others; poblacion gym of Saguiaran with 811 families; Baloi Sumampong Gym with 300 families; Buruun School of Fisheries in Iligan City with seven families; and MSU-IIT Iligan with nearly 300 students from MSU Marawi.

Col. Alex Aduca, chief of the Army's 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, said in a phone interview with Radio DZMM that the evacuees would be denied entry to Iligan and instead sent to "consolidation and processing areas" in Matungao and Tagoloan towns, where they would be given basic services.

"I can not give operational details, but I am sure they are also human, they will also get exhausted", he said.

The violence erupted Tuesday night when the government launched a raid to capture Isnilon Hapilon, who is on Washington's list of most-wanted terrorists.

Whatever the case, the point here is that there is some information only available to the President which makes him the best person to decide on what course of action to take. There was no word on their fate.

During the fight, the military authorities discovered that the Maute Group had been joined by Ansarul Khilafah Philippines, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Abu Sayyaf Group, known for its maritime piracy in Philippine and Malaysian waters.

He now heads an alliance of at least 10 smaller armed groups, including the Maute, which has a heavy presence in Marawi.

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