MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday that he will not negotiate with militants aligned with the Islamic State group who are holding hostages in a besieged southern city, and that he has ordered troops to kill the gunmen even if they slaughter the hostages.
The tough-talking Duterte issued his strongest warning yet to the local and foreign militants, whose stunning siege of Marawi has dragged on for nearly two weeks. Troops have battled to regain control of most of the lakeside city, but the militants, who are believed to be holding a Catholic priest and many other hostages, continue to control pockets of territory.
At least 178 people have been killed in Marawi, the heartland of Islamic faith in the southern Philippines, since hundreds of gunmen waving Islamic State-style black flags rampaged across the city on May 23, burning some buildings and occupying others as they battled troops backed by airstrikes and artillery fire.
The dead include 120 militants, 20 civilians and 38 soldiers and policemen.
“I was asked if I could negotiate. I’m telling you now, you can kill all those you’re holding now, but I won’t talk to you,” Duterte said in a speech before peace talks advocates at an air base in the central city of Lapu-Lapu. “My order really is to shoot you and to shoot you dead.”
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