Priest says he and 200 others held hostage in Philippines

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Philippine forces say they now control most of a southern city where militants linked to the Islamic State group launched a bloody siege almost a week ago.

Militants of the Maute group stormed the city of Marawi, on the southern Philippines island Mindanao, May 23.

Over the past week, his fighters have shown their muscle, withstanding a sustained assault by the Philippine military and increasing fears that the Islamic State group's violent ideology is gaining a foothold in this country's restive southern islands, where a Muslim separatist rebellion has raged for decades.

Padilla on Wednesday said that he was basing this on the statement of Marawi City Bishop Edwin De La Peña who said the video where Suganob was making his appeal.

Padilla said the video indicates the extremists are fighting for survival. The call to surrender was aimed at limiting the loss of more lives and property, he added.

Padilla said eight militants holed up in Marawi City have surrendered to the military.

Still, the fighters have turned out to be remarkably well-armed and resilient. He says a top Filipino militant is believed to have been killed and the leader of the attack was wounded in the fighting.

The gunmen have held the Philippine army at bay, burning buildings, taking at least a dozen hostages and sending tens of thousands of residents fleeing. "The city in my background is ruined like this", he said.

Eighty-nine militants, 21 security forces and 19 civilians have so far been killed during clashes.

Hapilon is an Islamic preacher and former commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2014.

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At least 41 militants were killed and 13 military as of Saturday, according to the army.

"It means that they're fighting for survival, they're trapped", Padilla said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said that suspected militants fighting in Syria are looking at Southern Philippines as their next destination.

Although Islamic State and groups affiliated to the movement have claimed several attacks across Southeast Asia in the last two years, the battle in Marawi City was the first long drawn-out confrontation with security forces.

"They wanted to show the world that there is an ISIS branch here which can inflict the kind of violence that has been seen in Syria and Iraq", Ano told The Associated Press, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

"We want to live another day, we want to live another month, " Suganob said, standing in front of debris and partially burned buildings.

Soganub, wearing a black shirt and pants, said the militants had the right to practice their faith and enforce Islamic laws in the city.

"Precision airstrikes are (being) judiciously used to prevent collateral damage and employed at specific targets of resistance to protect our troops and hasten clearing of the city of terrorist elements who continue to resist", military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said Tuesday, according to the official Philippine News Agency.

The fighters' support network in Marawi remains unclear, though the power of one militant group - the Mautes - has grown in recent years. Duterte said Marawi is home to the Maute group, which is led by brothers who were former Manila cops.

It is one of the few dominantly Islamic cities left in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao, which is regarded as the ancestral homeland for Muslims who arrived in the country well before Spanish colonisers introduced Christianity from the 16th century. The largest armed group dropped its secessionist demands in 1996, when it signed an autonomy deal with the Philippine government.

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