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Philippine military fighting ISIL-linked group

Reporter: Barnaby Lo 丨 CCTV.com

12-01-2016 00:51 BJT

A small militant group in the Philippines raised an ISIL flag as it seized a southern town. The military has responded with an all-out offensive that has so far resulted in the deaths of dozens of militants and over a dozen injuries on their own side.

"I’d like to inform the Moro people of Mindanao, that I hate to wage a war against them," Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said

A conciliatory message from the usually feisty President Rodrigo Duterte, even as Philippine troops are engaged in a battle against a small criminal and terror group known as the Maute group, just a few kilometers away from where he was speaking.

That the Maute group had pledged allegiance to the extremist Islamic State or ISIL and had even raised the ISIL flag, however was not lost on Duterte.

"I don’t know if they are just inspired or if they are being orchestrated now, but whatever it is it’s not good," Duterte said

For now, he says he’s leaving everything to the military, which has been successful so far in pushing the Maute group away from the most populated areas of Butig, the town the ISIL-linked group had occupied.

A few days ago, this was practically a ghost town. Now as you can see, civilians are back but there’s also heavy military presence. The town’s mayor says he wants this military presence permanent.

For Butig Mayor Dimnatang Pansar, the fear is as real as it can get. His own house was fired on and shelled by the militants.

"It so happened that the Maute group occupied several houses over there. It’s about 250 meters away from here. (So close!) That’s how close," Butig Mayor Dimnatang Pansar said.

And if the roadside bomb that hit President Duterte’s advance party in a city 50 kilometers away from Butig on Tuesday were a sign, the violence could also be spreading elsewhere.

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