TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Congress to extend martial law in the southern island of Mindanao until the end of the year to crush rebels inspired by the Daesh (also known as ISIL or ISIS) terrorist group, his spokesman said on Tuesday.
Mindanao, an island of 22 million people with a history of separatist and Marxist rebellion, was placed under military rule on May 23 after rebels from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups took over parts of Marawi City.
The insurgents have put up fierce resistance, with scores of fighters still holed up in Marawi’s commercial heart, enduring seven weeks of ground offensives, airstrikes and artillery bombardments to prolong a crisis that has killed more than 500 people and displaced at least 260,000, Reuters reported.
“The primary objective of the possible extension is to allow our forces to continue with their operations unhampered by deadlines and to focus more on the liberation of Marawi and its rehabilitation and rebuilding,” said presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, reading a letter to Congress signed by Duterte.
The brazen takeover of Marawi by organized, heavily armed militants who have pledged allegiance to Daesh has been the biggest crisis of Duterte’s one-year presidency, and has fanned fears that extremist ideology may run deeper than was previously imagined.
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Tasnim News Agency