>> As deadly clashes between troops and Islamic militants continue in the southern Philippines on Friday, hundreds are fleeing the city of Marawi. The southern island of Mindanao is under martial law as the fighting raged. The death toll rising to around 50. Fighters from the, so-called, Maute group, have held Marawi since Tuesday, and Reuters' Tom Allard reports from nearby, they've proven, especially, difficult for the military to drive out.
>> This is, clearly, a well-planned operation that
] vaguely surprised the Philippines' military. We're talking about an urban environment. But they are able to hide in buildings and they're very hard to get at. They also seems to have stores of guns around the city so they can move from one place to another without guns and then pick up the Western had another clash.
This is a city that dubs itself as the Islamic city of Mindanao. There are empathizers in the community. And they are giving them assistance, as well.>> Since fighting broke out earlier this week, militants have been torching buildings and taking hostages. Some reports even saying Christians have been used as human shields.
In a short span, evacuations have left Marawi a ghost town.>> This is a city of 200,000 odd people, the vast majority have left with huge convoys blowing out of the city and coming to the nearby towns. Also, hundreds and hundreds on foot, as well, people who don't have vehicles, who are just gathering what belongings they can and leaving the city.
>> Philippine authorities say fighters from Indonesia and Malaysia are among those battling the army. In the words of one official on Friday, Maute was once just a local terrorist group. But since they've subscribed to the ideology of Islamic State, they're on a mission to make Mindanao part of the Caliphate.