Philippine troops battle IS-linked gunmen in southern city

Fighting abated in the mainly Muslim city of Marawi as troops sought to contain dozens of rebels of the Maute group, who escaped a botched raid on Tuesday on an apartment and took over streets, bridges and buildings and sought to block army reinforcements.

Filipino troops have surrounded the city of Marawi, setting up security checkpoints, but the Islamic militants are reportedly threatening to kill hostages if Filipino security forces are not withdrawn.

Villegas says the gunmen are demanding the government recall its forces.

President Rodrigo Duterte has placed Mindanao and nearby island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Taw-Tawi in the southern Philippines under martial law, and vowed to be "harsh" in dealing with the local militant group.

"The whole of Marawi city is blacked out, there is no light, and there are Maute snipers all around", Lorenzana said in the news conference in Moscow, which was broadcast live in the Philippines.

Amate said he has relayed his message to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and other government agencies to look into the situation that will protect the city from destruction and the civilians from harm. "This is based on the report from our communities in Marawi City wherein they spotted an armed group".

Police said the May 6 blast was sparked by a personal feud, but the Islamic State group claimed its fighters were responsible.

Tuesday's raid was aimed at capturing Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf group notorious for piracy, banditry and for kidnapping and beheading Westerners.

Military spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo said 13 militants had been killed, and that five soldiers had died and 31 others were wounded. "There will be no guarantee that it will not last until the end of my term", Duterte said.

He said he would consider some security measures in the central Visayas region next to Mindanao to facilitate arrests, and could even declare martial law nationwide.

Abella said Duterte would cut short his trip to Moscow, cancelling a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and return to the Philippines.

What is troubling the security apparatus is that radical elements of another IS-linked group, Abu Sayyaf, appear to be collaborating with Maute, far from its island strongholds of Basilan, Jolo and Tawi Tawi, all off Mindanao.

The Maute and Abu Sayyaf militant groups have pledged allegiance to Daesh and have proved fierce opponents for the military.

Authorities have accused the Maute of involvement in a bombing in Duterte's hometown of Davao in September that left 14 people dead.

"They were taken hostage, dinala to an undisclosed location", the bishop said, adding that they have not heard from the hostages since the incident. Troops found homemade bombs, grenades, combat uniforms and passports of suspected Indonesian militants in the camp, the military said.