'Beheaded' police chief safe amid clashes in besieged Philippines city

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered his troops to crush militants who are fighting street battles with government forces in the south, warning Friday that the country is at a grave risk of "contamination" by the Islamic State group. This week's raid was not the first time the military went after him - he was wounded by an airstrike in January.

In the proclamation signed during what was supposed to be Duterte's official visit to Russian Federation, the president cited the Marawi attack and several previous Maute offensives as a reason to impose martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus over Mindanao. The province is a stronghold for the Maute group, which has pledged allegiance IS.

It is a rare admission by the authorities that local jihadists are working with worldwide groups. He said Malaysians, Indonesians and Singaporeans were among them.

Foreign fighters were also seen fighting alongside the local terrorists in Marawi City, according to Calida.

He said there may have been confusion because a former Malabang police chief was killed in the fighting - but he was not beheaded.

Hapilon is an Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher known for his expertise in commando assaults. He is at the nexus of several militant groups trying to merge into a more powerful force.

Whatever the consequences in lawless Mindanao, for many Filipinos the imposition of martial law was an eerie reminder of a similar declaration in 1972 by the country's then president, Ferdinand Marcos, that began a decade of ruinous dictatorship. Its activities are a source of concern for Mindanao native Duterte, who is familiar with separatist unrest but alarmed by the presence of radicals inspired by Islamic State's radical agenda.

Washington has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Hapilon's capture. Once again, Hapilon escaped.

"Right now, he is still inside (the city)", Gen. Eduardo Ano told The Associated Press.

Much of Marawi was still a no-go zone Thursday. Automatic gunfire and explosions could be heard clearly and plumes of black smoke rose from the direction of the city center.

Attack helicopters and special forces have been deployed in the offensive.

Even though much of the city was sealed off, disturbing details were emerging.

Año also said foreign fighters were believed to be inside, but he was more cautious.

And Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Pena said the militants forced their way into the Marawi Cathedral and seized a Catholic priest, 10 worshippers and three church workers. Videos of the incident showed young, heavily armed men riding around the capital of Lanao del Sur province in trucks, brandishing weapons, emptying the local prison, and hoisting the Islamic State flag outside public buildings. The Philippines is Asia's largest Roman Catholic nation, but its southern region has a large Muslim minority.

Former president Fidel Ramos yesterday slammed Mr Duterte for saying on his return to the Philippines that he might place the whole country under martial law, warning against inevitable abuses under military rule.

"You can arrest any person, search any house without warrant", said Duterte, who has allowed extrajudicial killings of thousands of people in his crackdown on illegal drugs. In 2008, troops bombarded an Abu Sayyaf camp near Jolo island with artillery and mortar fire, reportedly wounding Hapilon in the hand.

Ejercito pointed out that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other armed groups in Mindanao gained strength during the Ramos administration, adding that some of his officials were MILF members who used resources of the government to build rebel bunkers.

Ringling Bros. shuts down the big top
'Star Wars': Pablo Hidalgo Confirmed For 'From A Certain Point Of View'