Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte placed the southern island of Mindanao under military rule Tuesday night after terrorists linked to Islamic State clashed with government troops in Marawi, the most populous city in the island’s Muslim region.
The president, who is in Russia and scheduled to meet with his counterpart, Vladimir Putin, declared martial law for 60 days, his spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a televised briefing from Moscow on Tuesday. Duterte will cut short his trip and fly back to deal with the situation in the south, said his foreign secretary, Alan Peter Cayetano.
At least three members of government forces were killed and a dozen wounded in clashes in Marawi, where terrorists led by a group known as Maute roamed the streets, burned a church and occupied the city hall, schools and even the prison, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said at the same briefing in Moscow, which was conducted close to midnight Manila time.
Putting Mindanao under military rule will allow the president to quash the rebellion and terrorism that’s gripping Marawi, Abella said. Martial law was last declared in 2009 by the then president, Gloria Arroyo, in Maguindanao, part of Mindanao, after dozens were killed in election-related violence.
Originally published by Bloomberg.