Philippines under ISIS Threat and creates ties with Russia
Militants linked to Islamic State swept through a southern Philippine city, beheading a police chief, burning buildings, seizing a Roman Catholic priest and his worshippers and raising the black flag of Isis, regional authorities have said.
Duterte cuts short trip to Russia after declaring martial law in southern Philippines
President Rodrigo Duterte had declared martial law across the southern third of the country – where Marawi city is located – and warned on Wednesday that he may expand it nationwide.
At least 21 people were killed in the fighting, officials said.
As details of the attack in Marawi emerged, fears mounted that the largest Roman Catholic state in Asia could join a growing list of countries grappling with the spread of influence from Isis in Syria and Iraq.
The violence erupted on Tuesday after the army raided the hideout of Isnilon Hapilon, a commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group that has pledged allegiance to Isis. He is on Washington’s list of most-wanted terrorists with a $5m (£3.9m) reward for information leading to his capture.
The meeting with Putin has reportedly been brought forward to Tuesday evening, to allow for his urgent return to Manila.
Duterte has lambasted the US since he came to power last year, calling Barack Obama a “son of a bitch”, and has said Russia and China are the only two major world powers he trusts.
“I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way,” he said on a visit to China last year.
Duterte and Putin first met on the sidelines of an international summit last November, when the Russian president extended an invitation to Duterte to visit Moscow. Since then, military cooperation has increased, with two Russian navy flotillas stopping in Manila. Meanwhile, Duterte has scaled down joint military exercises with the US.