Philippine troops battle Islamist militants in city

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Philippine troops battle Islamist militants in city

Soldier have clashes with ISIS militants in the Philippines region.

"Today's reporting leaves me even more concerned by President Trump's unusual fascination with dictators, his support for the extrajudicial killings central to President Duterte's 'drug war, ' and his recklessness with sensitive information", said Rep. Eliot Engel, top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The order came after security forces battled dozens of Islamic State-linked gunmen in the Mindanao city of Marawi.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Congress had received a mandatory report from Duterte explaining his martial law declaration and lawmakers would discuss it on Monday.

He said troops had isolated the guerrillas but were not engaging them.

Washington has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Hapilon's capture, but he has proved elusive.

Details from inside Marawi were sketchy because the largely Muslim city of more than 200,000 people appeared to be largely sealed off and without electricity.

Residents flee Mindanao's Marawi city as fighters reportedly behead a local police chief and take churchgoers hostage.

"Our country needs modern weapons... to fight against the Islamic State group we need weapons", Duterte said in Moscow.

Duterte warned he may expand martial law nationwide, an unnerving development for many in the Philippines who remember the rule of longtime dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

"To those who have experienced martial law, it would not be any different from what President Marcos did", Duterte said on his flight back to the Philippines. According to security services, the leader of the Abu Sayyaf extremist group, Isnilon Hapilon, is among those blocked in the apartment. But human rights groups and others have expressed fears that martial law powers could further embolden Duterte, who already has been accused of allowing extrajudicial killings of thousands of people in his crackdown on illegal drugs.

The group was blamed for a September 2016 bombing that killed 15 people in southern Davao city, the president's hometown. Hundreds of civilians, including children, have taken shelter at a makeshift evacuation camp in Marawi, where the militants - who have pledged allegiance to ISIL - had also taken Christians hostage and set free more than 100 prisoners from two jails.

"We're confronting maybe 30 to 40 remaining from the local terrorist group", said Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesman for the military's First Infantry Regiment.

(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez). A helicopter hovers over the site as government troops continue to battle Muslim militants, three days after laying siege in Marawi city in southern Philippines Thursday, May 25, 2017.

The archbishop said the gunmen are demanding the government recall its forces.

Marawi is in Lanao del Sur province, a stronghold of the Maute, a fierce, but little-known group that has been a tricky opponent for the military.

"Today's reporting leaves me even more concerned by President Trump's odd fascination with dictators, his support for the extra-judicial killings central to President Duterte's "drug war", and his recklessness with sensitive information", said Eliot Engel, top-ranking Democrat on the House foreign affairs committee.

"As president, if I can not confront them, I will resign", Duterte said. Militants called in reinforcements and quickly overpowered the authorities. It's unclear why Trump was even discussing military intel regarding North Korea with Duterte, as the Philippines aren't involved in U.S. defense against North Korea in any way, shape, or form.

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