Duterte offers bounties for militant chiefs in Marawi

2017-06-05 20:43
(Noel Celis, AFP)

(Noel Celis, AFP)

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Marawi - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday offered large bounties for the leaders of Islamist fighters holding parts of a southern city as the military warned its recapture may take longer than expected.

Hundreds of gunmen loyal to ISIS are battling air strikes, artillery and ground forces in Marawi. Up to 2 000 civilians are believed to have been trapped for two weeks in districts held by the militants, the government says.

The fighting has killed at least 178 people and caused nearly a quarter of a million others to flee, according to government officials.

New rewards of up to $410 000 are on offer from Duterte for the "neutralisation" of Isnilon Hapilon, Abdullah Maute and his brother Omarkhayam Maute, a military statement said.

Islamic city

"We hope that this will bear significant accomplishments leading to the eventual arrest and neutralisation of Isnilon Hapilon and the Maute brothers," said military chief of staff General Eduardo Ano.

Half the amount will be for Hapilon, whom Ano described as the "amir" or top leader of ISIS in the Philippines.

The US government also has a $5m bounty on Hapilon's head for the kidnapping and killing of US citizens.

Manila says it is fighting up to 250 gunmen holed up in central Marawi, the largely Catholic nation's most important Islamic city and home to 200 000 people.

The gunmen are a combination of Hapilon's Abu Sayyaf group, blamed for the country's deadliest bombings as well as kidnappings, and militants led by the Mautes and based in the Marawi region.

More than 224 000 residents of the city and nearby towns have fled the fighting, the provincial government said on Monday.

Read more on:    isis  |  rodrigo duterte  |  philippines

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