Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law yesterday across the southern third of the Philippine Islands, after deadly clashes between security forces and militants linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in a major city, the AFP (Agence France-Presse) website reports today (May 24, 2017).
The announcement, made by his spokesman at a press conference in Moscow where Duterte was on an official visit, fulfills a warning by the president that he would enforce military rule to quell security threats by ISIS.
Duterte placed all of the southern region of Mindanao -- which makes up about one-third of the country and is home to 20 million people -- under martial law, spokesman Ernesto Abella said in the nationally televised briefing.
The announcement of martial law came after security forces battled dozens of ISIS-linked gunmen in Marawi, a city of about 200,000 people in Mindanao. While the Philippines boasts of being the only predominantly Christian nation in all of Asia, about 20 percent of the population on the island of Mindanao is Muslim.