Duterte vows 'harsh' martial law in southern Philippines

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte.

Armed forces spokesman Edgard Arevalo urged the public not to be alarmed if they saw checkpoints and soldiers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, May 23, 2017. "I believe this is timely and necessary in the light of political turmoil perpetrated by the Moro extremists in Marawi City", Pacquiao said.

Putin will meet Duterte later Tuesday, rather than Thursday, his press secretary Dmitry Peskov was quoted as TASS news agency.

Duterte, meanwhile asked the people not to worry as he would act on the situation once he is back in the country.

"There are Maute snipers all around, so the troops are still holding and elements have already joined", he said.

Two soldiers and a police officer were reportedly killed.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella initially said martial law in Mindanao would last for 60 days.

"I'd be harsh", Duterte said on Wednesday, referring to the 1970s martial law imposed by late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Mindanao makes up roughly one-third of the country and is home to 20 million people.

The Maute and Abu Sayyaf militant groups have pledged allegiance to Daesh and have proved hard for the military as Duterte seeks to drive out extremists and prevent radical extremist ideology from spreading in the Philippines.

The Maute has been blamed for a bomb attack that killed 15 people in southern Davao city, Duterte's hometown, last September and a number of attacks on government forces in Lanao, although it has faced setbacks from a series of military offensives.

They had learned Isnilon Hapilon was in the area, but according to Lorenzana, the military had not expected him to be backed up by "more or less 100 fighters" - many of whom were members of another ISIS-linked organization, the Maute Group.

"This so-called group who are posing to be IS, they are merely courting the acclamation of IS which until now they haven't received, that's why they continue with their atrocities", Arevalo said. "He was a threat to none", Villegas said of Chito.

An estimated 600 fighters from South-east Asian nations are fighting in Syria and Iraq. He warned residents to stay indoors. The US State Department has offered a bounty of up to US$5 million for Hapilon's arrest.

Ano said Hapilon is still recovering from wounds sustained in a military air strike in January. "It enables military crackdown on perceived terrorists and enemies of the state", Elago said in a statement.

However Islamist militancy is not new to the southern Philippines, where a decades-long Muslim separatist insurgency claimed more than 120,000 lives.

Fighting abated in the mainly Muslim city of Marawi as troops sought to contain dozens of rebels of the Maute group, who escaped a botched raid on Tuesday on an apartment and took over streets, bridges and buildings and sought to block army reinforcements.

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