oops hitting heavy resistance from Islamic militants in the southern Philippines on Thursday. The army's saying more than 20 people have been killed in running gun battles in the city of Marawi. The so-called Maute militants who are causing the carnage have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, and thousands are fleeing the city as the chaos continues.
A state of Martial Law is in effect in the southern island of Mindanao. And President Rodrigo Duterte is threatening to expand it to the entire country. The battle with militants erupted on Tuesday and as Reuters' Martin Petty report since then it's gone from bad to worse.>> The situation seems very fluid, the military says it has the upper hand and it's been in control throughout.
But the question is what happened in the beginning, it's started with a raid on an apartment about 15 militants who according to witnesses, took over large parts of the city. The militaries brought in air support from two attack helicopters and is trying at the moment to cross a bridge into the city which the rebels have control of.
>> Meanwhile, human rights groups are pushing back against Duterte's declaration on Martial Law. Given his vicious and bloody anti-drugs campaign they're worried about abuse in areas under military rule. But their concerns will likely fall on deaf ears. The President remains hugely popular and the criticism he's been receiving about declaring Martial Law on Mindanao is coming from the usual suspects.
Human rights groups, opposition politicians, and the kind of people that Duterte just ignores.>> Since the fighting broke out, the Maute group has captured Christians, torched buildings, and set dozens of prisoners free. The Catholic Church says the militants have used people including a priest as human shields, and threatened to execute hostages unless troops leave the city.