Philippine forces make gains in southern city under siege

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Maute militants have pledged allegiance to Islamic State and have been battling government troops since laying siege to a southern city six days ago.

Heavy fighting continued throughout the weekend in and around the city of Marawi, in the southern Philippines, as after the declaration of martial law, the Duterte government has dispatched the military to try to recapture the city, which has been more or less completely overrun by ISIS.

Thousands of civilians have streamed out of Marawi and more than 2,000 were still trapped inside the city.

"I have to rescue my grandfather even at the risk of my life", Khana-Anuar Marabur Jr. said after police stopped him for speeding through a checkpoint.

"They have been sending us text messages, calling our hotline, requesting us to send rescue teams but we can not simply go to areas which are inaccessible to us", Adiong told Agence France-Presse.

The imam, who is a major in the Philippine Army, said he was convinced that some of those executed by Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists as they plundered villages in Marawi City were Muslims. "This war is taking too long".

Fighting between the security forces of the Philippines and Islamist militants from Maute and Abu Sayyaf continues in Marawi City in Mindanao.

"Our ground commanders have assured that the end is nearly there". Some civilians tied white cloths to poles to distinguish themselves from militants as soldiers on foot huddled behind armored vehicles that crawled along deserted streets.

"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 said.

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(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez). With a white flag to indicate they are non-combatants, displaced residents ride a motorbike to flee to safer areas as government troops battle with Muslim militants Monday, May 29, 2017 in Marawi, southern Philippines.

Sixty-one militants, 20 members of the security forces and 19 civilians have been killed since Tuesday, when Maute rebels went on the rampage after a botched military operation to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, who the government believes is a point man for Islamic State in the Philippines.

Residents in the area said the eight were men who had worked at a bakery and had been attempting to join the stream of refugees heading north to nearby Iligan City when they were stopped by Maute gunmen.

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.

More than 2200 people are estimated to be trapped in the conflict zone in Marawi, fearing for their lives from threats of Islamist militants and military air strikes.

Philippine marines, backed by an Armored Personnel Carrier, walk to the frontline in the continuing assaults to retake control of some areas of Marawi city Sunday, May 28, 2017 in southern Philippines.

Rebels torched buildings, took a priest and his worshippers hostage and sealed off much of the city. There was no word on their condition.

Militants allied to the so-called Islamic State came out onto the streets of Marawi last week after the army attempted to capture a top militant leader. Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters that Hapilon has received funds from the Islamic State group. The United States has offered a US$5 million (S$6.92 million) reward for his capture.

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