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grim milestone in the Philippines' militant crisis. The Islamic siege of the southern city of Malawi now entering its third month. More than 500 people have been killed so far, including 45 civilians as rebels remain holed up in buildings with innocent people trapped. The military admits they underestimated the extremists and President Rodrigo Duterte says he's prepared to wait a year for the fighting to end.
Reuters Martin Petty explains why the army plans to take it slow.>> An overwhelming use of force will put the lives of civilians and hostages at risk, so this needs to be carefully planned. Duterte has indicated that he's willing to fight it out for as long as it takes but needs to protect civilian lives.
The military says there's a hardcore of a few dozen militants remaining in the heart of the city. Their main tactic has been to position snipers in buildings to keep the military at bay, They know the city really well. They know where the basements are. There's believed to be underground tunnels, too, and that's really limited the effectiveness of the government's campaign of bombings and air strikes.
>> Over the weekend, Duterte got official approval from lawmakers to extend martial law over the whole southern island of Mindanao, until the end of December. Analysts say extremism is an endemic problem in the Philippines and the military is calling for a wider net to prevent a similar assault.
>> There are indications that surveillance will be key to further operations. That there'll be more monitoring of phone calls, of other communications like the Internet, social media and the use of drones where they can home in on hotspots of militant activity and perhaps try to locate training camps that are hidden in the mountains and the jungles.
>> Word of the drawn out struggle has spread widely on militant networks. Experts say it could inspire more insurgents to join the battle in Mindanao, where Muslim extremists from as far away as Saudi Arabia and Chechnya are already fighting.