Trump praises Duterte's 'great job' in Philippine drug war

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the southern island of Mindanao on Tuesday after a fierce bout of fighting between the army and militants linked to Islamic State in the city of Marawi.

The Maute and Abu Sayyaf militant groups have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and have proved fierce opponents for the military as Duterte seeks to crush extremists and prevent radical Islamist ideology from spreading in the Philippines.

Abella made the announcement in a press conference in Moscow, saying the President made the decision after meeting his group of advisers in Russian Federation to discuss the situation in Marawi City.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said 2 soldiers and one police officer were killed, while 12 others were wounded in ongoing clashes in Marawi City.

Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the infamous Abu Sayyaf kidnapping-for-ransom gang who Daesh (the so-called IS) has appointed its Philippine chief, was believed to be among those fighting police and soldiers in Marawi city, regional military spokeswoman Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay said.

At least three security force personnel died on Tuesday as they battled the militants in Marawi, a mainly Muslim city of about 200,000 people, with authorities reporting that gunmen burned a Catholic Church and other buildings.

"Many countries have the problem, we have the problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that", Trump said, according to a transcript of the call published by the Washington Post.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the southern third of the nation and warned he would enforce it harshly. "The US? We need weapons", he said.

The Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, is due to arrive in Moscow for a five-day trip in which he will meet his "favourite hero" Vladimir Putin and attempt to reorient his country's geopolitical alliance further away from the USA and towards Moscow.

"He is not stable", Duterte said, noting that Kim smiles in a disturbing manner as he tests missiles and rockets.

Cayetano said he would stay behind in Moscow, where a number of agreements are to be signed between the governments. My countrymen have experienced martial law.

Members of a militant group with ties to the Islamic State (ISIS) raided a prison in the southern Philippines, freeing more than 100 inmates.

Government troops have been intensifying offensives on the island strongholds of Abu Sayyaf and last month killed about 36 Maute group fighters when aircraft bombed their mountain lair in Lanao del Sur province.

Mr Duterte repeatedly threatened to place the south, the scene of decades long Muslim uprisings, under martial law if terrorism spiralled out of control. Trump responds by reassuring Duterte that the USA has twenty times the firepower of North Korea and "you will be in good shape". "I came to Moscow to ask for your help and support", the Kremlin quoted Duterte as telling Putin in a meeting on Tuesday.

In response to Trump's kind words about his extra-judicial killing policy, Duterte called drugs the "scourge of my nation" while saying he had to do something to preserve his country.

Mr. Duterte departs from Russian Federation on Tuesday, 12:00 am (Moscow time), and arrives in Manila on Wednesday, 5:00 pm (Manila time).

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