Militants kill 5 civilians as war rages in S. Philippines

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has denied media reports claiming he requested US Special Forces assistance in the battle for Marawi City, saying on Sunday that he “never approached America” for help.The cooperation between the longtime allies is significant because President Rodrigo Duterte, who came to power a year ago, has taken a hostile stance toward Washington and has vowed to eject U.S. military trainers and advisers from his country.The Combating Terrorism Center, an academic institution at the U.S. Military Academy reported that between June 2014 and April 2017 there were 20 terrorist attacks and 35 plots in Southeast Asia.”If the Philippines wins, Indonesia would get a spill-over effect from the retreating militants, but if the Philippines loses, Mindanao would be a strong regional IS base that threatens Indonesia among others”, he said.The embassy told CNN it would not provide further details about the USA support due to “security reasons,” but added US special operations forces have provided assistance in response to Philippine military requests for years.Tens of thousands have fled Marawi, which is the largely Catholic country’s most important Muslim city, since the military says its troops unexpectedly interrupted plans by the fighters to take over Marawi in a spectacular event to show that IS had arrived in the Philippines.Despite having known of the threat, the country’s top security officials-Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Council Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr. -joined President Rodrigo Duterte on his official visit to Russian Federation which began on the same day of the attack.The United States troops are reportedly helping the Armed Forces with the operations in Marawi in the areas of surveillance and intelligence.The militants belonging to the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups occupied the city on May 23.Philippine President Duterte seems to have quietly accepted U.S. Special Forces to advise and assist the PI in the task of destroying a festering Islamic insurgency on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.Singapore said on Monday it had detained an assistant child-care worker suspected of trying to join Islamic State, the first woman to be held on such charges in Singapore.With a giant Philippine flag at the MOA Arena, the PBA paid tribute to the 58 heroes who offered their lives while fighting for the country in Marawi City.The last time the Philippine security forces sustained large numbers of deaths was in 2015, when 44 police commandos were killed in a botched attempt to capture a Malaysian Islamist militant in the same region.Padilla said about 100 militants were still fighting, down from the estimated 400-500 who stormed the town. Government efforts to flush out terrorists hiding in key spots in the city have been hampered by the presence of the civilians trapped inside their homes.In response the Maute group attacked parts of the city, taking hostages.Former military chief Rodolfo Biazon told ABC-CBN television on Monday that the government seemed to be struggling to control the situation because rebel forces could move freely in an out of the town, raising the prospect of reinforcements.Indonesian military chief on Monday (June 12) said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has presence in almost all provinces across Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.