Priest and churchgoers kidnapped by IS militants in Philippines

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Army tanks packed with soldiers rolled into t.

The Maute have emerged from the glut of bandit and separatist groups in the southern Philippines.

Singaporeans are among the foreign nationals fighting alongside the Islamic State-linked Maute group in Marawi City, a Philippines armed forces spokesperson said on Friday (May 26).

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. Hapilon got away and fighters loyal to him took over parts of the city, burning buildings and seizing about a dozen hostages, including a priest.

Meanwhile, Duterte could claim an immediate victory in clearing Marawi, while using martial law and the security threat to muster support for some of his other political objectives that have lost some public support, according to Wadi. At least 11 soldiers and 31 militants have been killed, a military spokesman said.

Much of the city is a no-go zone, but as the military advances and more civilians escape, the scope of the battle is becoming clear.

He said he is tapping resources, "scraping the bottom of the barrel to look for money to see you through".

Snipers fired on Friday afternoon at about 100 troops who were marching single-file uphill through one district of Marawi that the militants had previously controlled, according to journalists accompanying the soldiers.

Duterte is also known for publicly insulting personalities such as the former US President Barack Obama whom he, in September 2016, called "son of a whore" for being reluctant to meet him.

"And if you can not be convinced to stop fighting, so be it. Let's just fight", he said.

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"They are texting us and calling us for help", he said.

"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 AFP.

Philippine troops backed by armoured vehicles and rocket-firing helicopters are fighting to retake control of the city.

"As the government forces ensure that the law is upheld, we beg of them to make the safety of the hostages a primordial consideration", he added. "We have to finish this".

Solicitor General Jose Calida, Philippines' chief lawyer, said these foreign fighters had heeded a "clarion call" of IS to travel to Mindanao to put up a "wilayat" or IS province, if they could not go to fight in Iraq or Syria. In 2005, the US Treasury Department seized Hapilon's assets for suspected terrorist activities and association with Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

Police Chief Romeo Enriquez said there may have been confusion because his predecessor in Malabang, a town near Marawi, was killed in the fighting on Tuesday, although he was not beheaded.

He recently warned that Islamic State was determined to establish a presence in the southern Philippines and the country was at risk of "contamination".

"Government security forces are there to protect the populace, maintain peace and order and go after criminal elements", he said.

The United States has placed a $5 million bounty on his head for alleged terrorist acts against American citizens.

Ramadan, Islam's month of fasting and prayer, began on Saturday and has special significance in Marawi, which has a predominantly Muslim population in a largely Catholic country.

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