Philippines president jokes about sexual assault in speech to soldiers
Philippines president jokes about sexual assault in speech to soldiers
28 May, 2017, 13:33
The fighting led President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law for 60 days for the entire southern island group of Mindanao, where Marawi is located.
On Tuesday the group seized large parts of Marawi, a predominantly Muslim city in the country's south.
The violence erupted Tuesday night when the government launched a raid to capture Ipsilon Hapilon, who is on Washington's list of most-wanted terrorists. Their condition was not known.
In addition to the civilian deaths, Padilla said 61 militants, 11 soldiers and four police were among the dead. Many sent desperate text messages begging to be rescued and reporting that their homes had been destroyed, said Zia Alonto Adiong, an official in Lanao del Sur province, one of the country's poorest.
It was not the first time Duterte has made a joke about rape.
"In as much as we would like to avoid collateral damage, these rebels are forcing the hand of government by hiding and holding out inside private homes, government buildings and other facilities", military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla said.
"Their refusal to surrender is holding the city captive", it said. "Hence, it is now increasingly becoming necessary to use more surgical airstrikes to clear the city and to bring this rebellion to a quicker end", AP quoted a military statement as saying.
The violence is the latest in four decades of conflict across the southern third of the mostly Catholic Philippines, where a Muslim separatist rebellion has claimed more than 120,000 lives. The military said Maute has yet to be endorsed by Islamic State. Up to 90 percent of Marawi's population of 200,000 has fled, while those left in the city wave white flags to signal they are not militants.
In a speech at a military camp aimed at lifting troops' spirits after he imposed martial law across the southern Philippines, Duterte told them they were allowed to rape up to three women.
Aminola Mitmug, a native of this city, said they prayed on Saturday morning while bombs were exploding in nearby villages.
Galvez said the military managed to gain control of "some areas" but admitted that there are still areas which are still under the control of the Maute militants.
Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of the armed forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command, told reporters they are now on the offensive and assured they will try their best to clear the city as soon as possible.
The military announced on Saturday, the start of the holy month of Ramadan, that it would intensify the bombing campaign.
He said Hapilon suffered a stroke after a government airstrike wounded him in January.
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.
Troops were pressing their assaults on the militants Sunday, he said.
But Wadi also said he did not believe the vast majority of local Muslims supported an IS caliphate, nor the group's brutal tactics that include mass beheadings of opponents.
"We will make this their cemetery", he said.
Like the Maute, the Abu Sayyaf have pledged allegiance to IS.
A woman touches an image of Jesus Christ shortly after attending a mass for victims of the recent attack in Marawi by Muslim militants linked to the Islamic State group and also for extrajudicial killings inside a church in Man.
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BAP also announced that the banks are committed to bringing regular banking services to serve its clients. The military said he is still wounded from a January air strike and being protected by his fighters.
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Jo-Ar Herrera, a military spokesman, said 41 militants had been killed, with 10 more deaths after heavy fighting on Friday. Washington has offered a US$5 million ($7m) reward for information leading to Hapilon's capture.
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