Police chief is safe, says a former chief died

He said security forces in Marawi have also been ordered to secure areas around mosques to allow the Muslim faithful to visit and observe Ramadan.

Hapilon, who is also wanted by the United States, was the target of Tuesday's attempted raid in Marawi, but was not captured.

A police chief in the southern Philippines has said he is safe after President Rodrigo Duterte announced earlier that he had been beheaded.

He said the fighting began when police and troops raided a house on Tuesday afternoon where Hapilon, the subject of a US State Department bounty of $5 million, was believed to be hiding.

"We can still talk about it", Duterte said.

"If I think you should die, you will die". "But those who are out-and-out terrorists, and you can not be convinced to stop fighting, so be it. Let us fight".

"Many people in Marawi and in other areas are denying the presence of a looming terrorism threat in their communities. That's how it is".

The violence has forced thousands to flee and raised fears of growing extremism in the country. "I hope that the bombs will not land nearby and harm us".

The military is certain the Maute are protecting Hapilon and had narrowed down his location.

"One of their founding leaders Omar Khayam is married to a woman from Indonesia, whom he met while he was studying in Egypt", he said.

Mujiv Hataman, governor of the Autonomous Region in Mindanao, said militants freed 107 prisoners, among them Maute rebels.

Duterte's joked about rape while expressing his support for the soldiers.

Critics chided Duterte for what they saw as an overreaction in declaring martial law for two months on the southern island, which is the size of South Korea and the second biggest in the Philippines, after an incident in one city.

Padilla insisted the martial law of 1972 and 2017 were declared in different contexts and more importantly, had different constitutional foundations.

Alunan hailed the President's move to stop Islamic militants from their rampage killing.

"The government must put an end to this".

They are one of the dozens of new Muslim groups who have pledged allegiance to ISIS.

The little-known Maute group has staged similar, days-long sieges on Mindanao island but none on the scale of Marawi, where witnesses said flags resembling those of Islamic State had been flown and some men were wearing black headbands.

The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, a group of human rights attorneys, said the decision was "a sledgehammer, knee-jerk reaction" that would "open the flood gates for unbridled human rights violations and abuses".

The Maute and Abu Sayyaf have proved fierce opponents for the military. They have kept me abreast with the situation in their countries. "They are all over the main roads and two bridges leading to Marawi", student Rabani Mautum told Reuters in Pantar town, about 16 km (10 miles) away. But the militant leader has repeatedly escaped and remains elusive.

"Again, we would like to assure the public and request you to trust and appeal to you trust the Armed Forces, your Armed Forces, that we will do everything in our capacity, alongside the guidelines that have been set by the Constitution and the other guidelines that will be given to us", he said.

Latest News