Philippine troops declare 8-hour cease-fire in besieged city

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Government troops are searching for the remains of a Malaysian national who allegedly financed the terrorist Maute group, which continue to repel state forces a month since launching attacks in Marawi City.

Southeast Asian groups, like Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia and Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, find it easier to connect with Bangladeshi network through stints with IS fighters in Syria and Iraq and solidarity initiatives for Rohingyas in Myanmar and also through a few overseas workers and students who develop sympathies for global terror groups, the 13-page report states.

According to the military, Hapilon's group combined with the Maute Group, also comprising armed militants, to launch the Marawi siege which is now in its second month.

Asked if Hapilon was on the run, he said: "Yes, yes because reportedly he suffered a lot of casualties".

President Duterte immediately declared martial law in Marawi and the entire Mindanao, unleashing an offensive to crush what he said was an attempt by the jihadist group to establish a province in the area.

Only four of 96 villages in Marawi remain in the hands of the militants, out of the 19 villages across the lakeside city of 200,000 people that the militants had occupied.

Ano further said that the Filipino troops have clues as to where Mahmud might be buried and that the military is trying to locate the exact spot with the help of civilians to confirm the intelligence they received. Eduardo Ano told The Associated Press on Friday, June 23, 2017, that Mahmud bin Ahmad died June 7, 2017, from wounds sustained in fighting with government troops in Marawi last month.

"We can just bomb them away or use napalm bombs to burn everything, but then, we will not be any different from them if we do that", he said.

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But late yesterday, Malaysia's police chief, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, said the report was untrue, without saying how he knew this.

Philippine Foreign Minister Alan Peter Cayetano and his Malaysian and Indonesian counterparts met with top security officials in Manila Thursday to discuss the crisis.

Mahmud and his right-hand man Mohd Najib Husen, who had been killed in the Philippines much earlier, were identified as the chief recruiters in Malaysia for IS.

According to Abella, both leaders felt the need to step up cooperation to address threats posed by terrorism and violent extremism.

The Palace official also said that Widodo also vowed to help the Philippines in restoring peace in Mindanao, particularly in the war-torn Marawi City.

Galvez said troops yesterday recovered two decomposing corpses that bore features of people from the Middle East.

However, they confirmed that Mahmud has been raising funds for the terror group. The three countries also launched trilateral border patrols to prevent the movement of Islamic jihadists, some of whom were known to have entered the Philippines' backdoor.