Most wanted Philippine militant Hapilon often evasive

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte salutes the coffins of 15 soldiers killed in a gunbattle with Abu Sayyaf militants

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte salutes the coffins of 15 soldiers killed in a gunbattle with Abu Sayyaf militants

Only six bodies were recovered. At least 44 people have died in the fighting, including 31 militants and 11 soldiers.

TRAPPED. Residents who can't or won't leave Marawi City are asking for food and water from the government.

Hapilon was not been captured in the raid, after which militants plowed through the city, burning buildings, including the residence of the bishop, and cut off electricity and raised the Islamic State flag. Two policemen were also killed.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered his troops to crush militants who are fighting street battles with government forces in the south, warning Friday that the country is at a grave risk of "contamination" by the Islamic State group.

Hapilon, who reportedly has direct links to worldwide terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS), joined the Maute Group in Lanao Del Sur supposedly to establish an Islamic caliphate in Central Mindanao.

Hapilon is still hiding out in the city under the protection of gunmen who are desperately trying to find a way to "extricate" him, the country's military chief said.

He also added that most of the members of the Maute Group have been involved in illegal drugs to generate money and purchase artillery. Reports said there were nine.

The Philippines military declared the hospital "cleared of Maute presence".

Herrera said operations are ongoing to address the hostage-taking of four people, including a priest. They said six soldiers perished in Thursday's fighting.

Helicopters circled the city, peppering Maute positions with machine gun fire to try to force them from a bridge vital to retaking Marawi, a mainly Muslim city of 200,000 where fighters had torched and seized a school, a jail and a cathedral, and took more than a dozen hostages.

"The military is conducting precise, surgical operations to flush them out. The situation is very fluid and movements are dynamic because we wanted to out-step and outmaneuver them".

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"I$3 f the NPA will insist [on doing] what they want... we will enforce the law uniformly, no matter who [these] groups are", Padilla said.

"The objective of our armed forces is to clear the city at the soonest time as possible", Padilla said.

"We're leaving", said a resident named Edith, walking along a rundown street carrying a small suitcase.

Sultan Haji Ismael Demasala said he was staying and would leave his fate in God's hands. "We can not just pinpoint the particular spot". The latest close call came in January, when the military attacked militants with ground troops and airstrikes, dropping 500-pound (225-kilogram) bombs from military jets.

"We can still talk about it", Mr Duterte said.

NFA rice stocks for the whole of Mindanao stands at 1,504,190 bags.

Catholics in the Philippine capital have attended a Mass for people in the southern region now under martial law and in Marawi.

"We need to ensure that none of their members will escape from the city by disguising themselves as civilians", he said.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt.

The president was due to hold a cabinet meeting on Thursday in Davao, his home city and the biggest on Mindanao.

Duterte said the martial law, which meant checkpoints as well as arrests and searches without warrant, would go on for as long as necessary.