Philippines forces hit militants; civilians wave white flags

Hapilon also leads an umbrella of smaller militant groups, including the Maute.

The raid quickly went wrong after Maute militants called in reinforcements and overran government forces.

Marquez was at a checkpoint where soldiers were checking residents fleeing the violence and spotted a woman peering from under a tarpaulin and took several quick pictures.

The battle to clear the city of the gunmen was proving hard because they had scattered into small groups and were moving to different houses and setting up sniper positions, according to the military.

Some resident remain in relatively safe neighbourhoods but others are trapped close to fighters from the Maute group and other militants from the area.

THE Philippines Commission on Human Rights has cautioned the military and national police against carrying out arbitrary arrests amid the government's implementation of martial law in restive Mindanao. "It's just a matter of time for us to clear them from all their hiding places". "If there's an open defiance, you will die", the brash president said, adding, "If it means many people dying, so be it".

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the southern third of the Philippines in response to the clashes, which have claimed at least 48 lives and he has said are part of a campaign by the Islamic State (IS) group to establish a local caliphate.

Duterte also attracted controversy when he said he wanted to rape an Australian missionary who had been caught up in a 1989 prison riot in the Philippines and murdered by the inmates.

MARAWI CITY, Philippines, May 28 (Reuters) - Bodies of what appeared to be executed civilians were found in a ravine outside a besieged Philippine city on Sunday as a six-day occupation by Islamist rebels fending off a military onslaught took a more sinister turn.

Political analysts in the panel said the Maute Group has a big following. He said governmental planes are at their disposal for the wounded to be transported and the best medical equipment is available.

Southeast Asian fighters fleeing the Middle East "could look to Mindanao to provide temporary refuge as they work their way home", said a report late past year by the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, predicting a high risk of regional violence. "We have to finish this".

"There are also Malaysians, Singaporeans and in the fight that has been ongoing in Marawi, we are continuously verifying that there have been a number of them who have been killed", Padilla said in a joint press briefing with presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella and Solicitor General Jose Calida in Davao City yesterday.

Ano also said foreign fighters were believed to be inside, but he was more cautious.

"Their refusal to surrender is holding the city captive", it said. "We give primordial concern to the safety of our people, the safety of the Maranao", Herrera said.

Tuesday's raid was aimed at capturing Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of a radical faction of another militant group, the Abu Sayyaf.

Hapilon's group has received a "couple of million dollars" from the Islamic State group, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters without elaborating Friday.

While it can not be denied that there were tragic stories during martial law under the late president Ferdinand Marcos, does it mean Filipinos should fear President Duterte's declaration?

The southern Philippines has been troubled by decades-long Muslim separatist uprisings in the predominantly Catholic nation.

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