21 Killed as Militants Besiege Philippine City

Thousands flee as military sends in tanks
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 25, 2017 12:03 AM CDT
21 Killed as Militants Besiege Philippine City
Government troops patrol the outskirts of Marawi city.   (Bullit Marquez)

Army tanks packed with soldiers have rolled into a southern Philippine city to try to restore control after militants linked to ISIS launched a violent siege. Thousands of civilians have been fleeing Marawi, a city of some 200,000 people, the AP reports. At least 21 people have died in fighting that erupted late Tuesday, when the army raided the Marawi hideout of Isnilon Hapilon. Hapilon is on Washington's list of most-wanted terrorists and has a $5 million bounty on his head. But the operation quickly went wrong as the militants called in reinforcements.

The city was still largely sealed off Thursday, although automatic gunfire and explosions could be heard and plumes of black smoke rose from the direction of the city center as air force helicopters swooped overhead. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in the Mindanao group of islands and has said he's considering expanding it nationwide. (In a phone call transcript leaked Wednesday, President Trump congratulated Duterte for doing an "unbelievable job" in dealing with the country's drug problem.)

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