Of 31 terrorists killed in Marawi ops, 6 are foreigners

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"The objective of our armed forces is to clear the city at the soonest time as possible", Padilla said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has imposed 60 days of martial law on the island of Mindanao, a traditional homeland of minority Muslims that encompasses the southern third of the nation and is home to 22 million people. "Let us all make a strong stance against this menace before it gets us", Galvez said.

"As of this report, 31 terrorists were already neutralised and six high-powered firearms were recovered by the troops", said Army's First Infantry Division commander Brigadier General Rolando Bautista.

"Terrorism problem is something we all have to battle together as one humanity who are strongly against it", Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief Lt. Gen. Carlito G. Galvez Jr., said.

As details of the attack in Marawi city emerged, fears mounted that the largest Roman Catholic nation in Asia could be falling into a growing list of countries grappling with the spread of influence from the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said the USA and Russian Federation have both offered to aid the Philippines in its counter-terrorism efforts.

"Also, the new Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano thanked Moscow for its commitment to strengthen cooperation with Manila, particularly in security and intelligence cooperation and in stepping up measures to combat terrorism, especially amid violence in Southern Philippines", he said.

Duterte said a local police chief was stopped at a militant checkpoint and beheaded. Enriquez has been in the job for about two months.

Hapilon, an Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher known for his expertise in commando assaults, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2014.

Aside from fighting government forces, these terrorist elements are also helping lawless groups in the country in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices and bombs.

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Of 31 terrorists killed in Marawi ops, 6 are foreigners

While pursuing peace talks with two large Muslim rebel groups in the south, Duterte has ordered the military to destroy smaller extremist groups which have tried to align with the Islamic State group.

"We have not seen any concrete evidence of material support from IS", military spokesman Brig.

The army raided what it believed to be his hideout on Tuesday night in Marawi, but the militants called in reinforcements and were able to overpower government forces.

Much of Marawi was still a no-go zone yesterday.

The Philippine government on Friday said foreign terrorists were among those killed in the ongoing firefights with the Islamic State (IS)-linked Maute group in Marawi City.

Intense fighting could be heard constantly throughout the day, according to an AFP reporter in the city, and the military said it had dropped bombs on residential neighborhoods.

Militants forced their way into the Marawi Cathedral and seized a Catholic priest, 10 worshippers and three church workers, according to the city's bishop, Edwin de la Pena. Offices are closed. We do not want people to be used as human shields, " Marawi Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra said.

Duterte had repeatedly threatened to place the region under martial law, which allows him to use the armed forces to carry out arrests, searches and detentions more rapidly.

Cerojano reported from Manila.

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