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Marawi fighting: Foreign fighters ‘among militants’ in Philippine city

Marawi fighting: Foreign fighters 'among militants' in Philippine city

Philippines soldier Marawi fighting: Foreign fighters 'among militants' in Philippine city

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Marawi has seen intense fighting over the past days

Foreign fighters are among Islamist militants killed in a southern Philippine city over the past days, officials say.

Six jihadists, including Indonesian and Malaysian citizens, were killed as the army continued its operation to drive the rebels out of the city of Marawi.

Attack helicopters and special forces have been deployed in the offensive.

It is a rare admission by the authorities that local jihadists are working with international groups.

Manila's solicitor-general said that what used to be domestic rebels have now subscribed to the ideology of the so-called Islamic State (IS) militant group.

"They want to make Mindanao part of the caliphate," Jose Calida told a news conference.

IS expansion

The admission confirms what observers see as moves by IS targeting the majority Muslim southern Philippines to establish a stronghold in South East Asia.

Marawi is a mainly Muslim city in Lanao del Sur province on the southern island of Mindanao. The province is a stronghold for the Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to IS.

The violence erupted after a failed army raid to capture a top militant leader. The fighting has killed 11 soldiers and 31 militants, a military spokesman said.

Meanwhile, thousands of people are reported to have fled the city.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law in Mindanao on Tuesday in response to the violence.

Martial law allows the use of the military to enforce order and the detention of people without charge for long periods.

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