Published: Sun, June 25, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Philippine troops declare 8-hour cease-fire in besieged city

Philippine troops declare 8-hour cease-fire in besieged city

The Philippine military has declared an eight-hour halt to its air and ground offensive against Islamic militants aligned with the Islamic State group in southern Marawi city to allow residents, a lot of them displaced, to celebrate the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Southeast Asian groups, like Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia and Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, find it easier to connect with Bangladeshi network through stints with IS fighters in Syria and Iraq and solidarity initiatives for Rohingyas in Myanmar and also through a few overseas workers and students who develop sympathies for global terror groups, the 13-page report states.

The military earlier said 10 foreign fighters have been killed in Marawi, where ISIS-linked terror groups launched attacks on May 23.

The ST report said he was believed to have been designated as a successor of Isnilon Hapilon, named as head of IS' Southeast Asia wing.

Faced by his worst crisis, President Rodrigo Duterte responded by declaring martial law in the south and ordering a massive offensive.

Año said the security troops have knowledge on where the Malaysian terrorists was buried and are now trying to recover his remains.

The intense fighting in Marawi has alarmed South-east Asian governments, which fear the militants could fan out across the region.

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"We shall continue to observe the safeguards we have established, like the multi-sectoral advisory group, legal action or quick reaction teams", Gapay, also the deputy Eastmincom commander, said.

Military officials said they were validating reports that the Maute brothers and a Malaysian terrorist were killed in a gunfight with government troopers weeks ago.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff General Eduardo Año, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, said Mahmud is believed to have been dead on June 7 after he had been injured in the ongoing battle between the government troops and Islamic State-inspired Maute group in Marawi City.

When asked about Mahmud's reported death, Malaysia's Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar told AFP in a text message in Kuala Lumpur: "Not true". In response, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have launched joint patrols to control the movement of militants across their sea borders.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, during a phone conversation with President Duterte, has reaffirmed Indonesia's commitment to help the Philippines fight terrorism in Mindanao.

Eight other militants, including those from Chechnya, Indonesia and Malaysia, had been killed earlier in the fighting, defense chief Delfin Lorenzana has said.

The military official said they have also engaged with different sectors and organizations "to explain our efforts in the implementation of martial law and continuously assess and innovate our measures and activities to enhance its implementation".

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