On Tuesday night, clashes between Philippine forces and heavily armed militants linked to the Islamic State caused panic and destruction in Marawi City, the capital of Lanao del Sur Province on Mindanao. The fight started when government forces tried to capture Isnilon Hapilon, one of FBI's most wanted terrorist.
As of now, the whole city of Marawi is blacked out, there is no light and there are snipers from Islamic State all around the city, according to Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana at a press briefing in Russia, where Philippine President Rodrigo has a four-day state visit.
Lt. Gen. Eduardo Ano, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff, said more than 50 militants entered Marawi City on Tuesday afternoon. They burned down houses, churches, hospitals and schools to claim the city.
ISIL together with the Maute group, who pledged allegiance to the terrorist group, burned several facilities, the Dansalan college, the St. Mary's Church, city jail, and the Ninoy Aquino school. Some of the students were reportedly trapped inside their schools as clashes between government forces and militants continue. The militants have also taken hostages, including a local priest. They threatened to kill the hostages if the government forces are not recalled.
In an Interview with a local TV network, Noddy Summers, one of the residents trapped inside the city, said they hear loud gun fires for the whole night. She added the shots were so loud that their glass windows shook.
On social media, there are photos from Marawi residents showing armed men walking around the city with black flags of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).
In order to "suppress lawless violence and rebellion," Duterte declared martial law on the whole island of Mindanao for 60 days. The president also said the declaration could last a year as he promised it would be similar to the late Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship. "I'll be harsh," he stated.
Duterte was a former mayor of Davao City on Mindanao. Since he became the President last year, he openly said several times the prospect of declaring martial law, usually in connection with his deadly crackdown on the Philippines' drug trade. Critics also pointed out his authoritarian tendencies.