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Militants force kids, hostages to fight: Philippine army

Militants force kids, hostages to fight: Philippine army

The prelates also wondered whether martial law across the southern part of the country would ensure the return of peace.

Duterte has attempted twice to travel to Marawi to join government forces but said Tuesday that heavy rain and the danger posed by the militants have scuttled his plans.

Some of the extremists are teenagers who may have been recruited and trained to use guns when they were still children, said Philippine military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla.

"But they carry weapons and are involved in the fighting, then it is hard to do more", he added.

A soldier covers his nose as a group of white-helmeted rescue volunteers carry a body they found at the beginning of the fight between government troops and Maute group militants in Marawi.

Hundreds of gunmen who attacked mosque-studded Marawi, a center of Islamic faith in the south of the predominantly Roman Catholic nation, on May 23 are believed to belong to at least four local armed groups that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and joined in a loose alliance.

A proposal to issue identification cards for Muslims in Central Luzon as a counterterrorism measure encountered strong opposition from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who called it discriminatory. During the speech, he talked about the developments in the fight against ISIS-linked militants in the besieged Marawi City.

Last June 1, ten Army soldiers were killed also by a botched airstrike.

Even President Rodrigo Duterte, in public speeches, has said he is angry because the people of the city allowed the Maute terror group to set up base in the city and stock up on weapons and munitions.

"This early recovery stage will pave the way for the preparation of the ground for the temporary resettlement area while Bangon Marawi is capacitating itself and organizing itself to embark on the full recovery at the end of hostilities", he said.

Earlier Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Farhana Maute, the mother of two brothers who led the May 23 attack, had approached the government for talks.

Airstrikes and ground assaults are also ongoing to flush out the remaining terrorists from the buildings within the city's business district, he added.

A photo from the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows Isnilon Hapilon, purportedly designated leader of Islamic State group's South-east Asia branch in 2016.

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