ISIS-linked extremists in the Philippines: martial law declared in Mindanao

ISIS-linked extremists in the Philippines: martial law declared in Mindanao

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was supposed to meet Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday, but instead cut his visit short

Photo: Chico Dimaro Usman

Photo: Chico Dimaro Usman

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was supposed to meet Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday, but instead cut his visit short to tend to a crisis at home.

On Tuesday, fighting erupted in Marawi City on the southern island of Mindanao. The violence was sparked by a botched police raid aimed at capturing the leader of Abu Sayyaf, an ISIS-linked group notorious for kidnappings.

More than 100 militants, mostly from the allied Maute group, subsequently seized the city, killing five soldiers, beheading the police chief and taking a priest hostage. Thousands of civilians have since fled Marawi as Maute flew the ISIS flag through the deserted city.

Shortly after, President Duterte announced martial law in Mindanao, giving the military the power to search and detain without warrant. The emergency measures will last at least 60 days but could be extended and possibly expanded to include other provinces, particularly the Visayas region to the north of Mindanao.

While the military says it will have the situation under control within three days, the southern Philippines has long been a haven for extremist groups and separatists. Despite this, the speed of Tuesday’s events, and ease with which a small group of militants seized the city, has shocked many.