Duterte declares martial law after Mindanao attack

Al Jareeza

Emergency declaration follows ongoing attack by about 100 fighters in the southern city of Marawi on Mindanao.

Duterte's four-day trip to Russia was cut short because of the brazen attack on Mindanao [Reuters]
Duterte’s four-day trip to Russia was cut short because of the brazen attack on Mindanao [Reuters]

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law on the southern island of Mindanao after about 100 Muslim fighters laid siege to a major city following a deadly gun battle with government forces.

The emergency declaration took immediate effect and will last for 60 days, according to presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, who made the announcement on Tuesday from Russia, where Duterte was on a scheduled four-day official visit.

The president “has already declared martial law for the entire island of Mindanao”, Abella said.

Abu Sayyaf captive beheaded in Philippines

“This is possible on the grounds of the existence of rebellion,” he added.

Duterte cut short his trip to Russia, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said. “The president feels that he is needed in Manila as soon as possible.”

Duterte met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday night rather than Thursday as planned, according to Russian state media.

The president said on Wednesday martial law could last a year as he vowed it would be similar to the late Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

“If it would take a year to do it, if it’s over within a month, then I’d be happy,” Duterte said in a video posted online by the government.

Two soldiers and one police officer were killed in the firefight in the city of Marawi, 816km south of Manila, while 12 government forces were wounded, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

The attackers reportedly burned a Catholic church, the city jail, and two schools, as well as occupied the main streets and two bridges leading to the city of more than 200,000 people, Lorenzana added.

Gunmen also occupied city hall, a state-run hospital, and part of a university compound, he said.

“The whole of Marawi city is blacked out, there is no light and there are [rebel] snipers all around,” Lorenzana told a press conference in Moscow.

The hostilities in Marawi began when troops raided an apartment where fighters were reportedly meeting, according army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jo-ar Herrera.

Loyal to ISIL

The gunmen were suspected members of two armed groups – Abu Sayyaf and Maute – which have pledged allegiance to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), Herrera said.

In the raid, security forces were targeting Isnilon Hapilon, an Abu Sayyaf leader.

Photos posted on social media by Marawi residents showed armed men roaming the city with the black flags of ISIL.

“Please pray for us here,” said Mohammad Abedin, president of the Lanao Del Sur Medical Society in Marawi. “We can see houses burning and we don’t have electricity now.”

Lorenzana said additional forces would be deployed to Marawi on Wednesday.

Military chief General Eduardo Ano urged residents of Marawi to stay indoors as fighting continued.

“Don’t go out, lock your doors and windows until our troops clear the area,” he said in an interview with a Manila radio station from Moscow. “We have enough troops on the ground.”

WATCH: Breakaway Philippine rebels align with ISIL

Both Abu Sayyaf and Maute have been blamed for bombings, attacks against government forces, and kidnappings in the Philippines. They have also beheaded hostages.

Abu Sayyaf decapitated an elderly German early this year and two Canadians last year after ransom demands were not met.

It has also been blamed for the country’s worst attacks, including the 2004 bombing of a ferry in Manila Bay that claimed more than 100 lives.

Security analysts said Hapilon has been trying to unite various Muslim armed groups that have professed allegiance to ISIL.

Hapilon reportedly has been chosen to lead an ISIL branch in Southeast Asia and is on the US Department of Justice list of most-wanted terrorists worldwide, with a reward of up to $5m for his capture.

An Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher known for his expertise in commando assaults, he pledged allegiance to ISIL in 2014, according to security officials.

Ano said Hapilon is still recovering from wounds sustained in a military air strike in January.

Source: News agencies

This entry was posted in International Terrorism, Philippines, Southeast Asia terrorism and tagged , , , , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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