Philippine marines killed in fighting with militants

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"We don't have adequate surveillance equipment, so we asked the USA military for assistance".

"The chief of staff made an announcement, hoping, that by Monday we can freely wave our flags in every corner of Maraqi and we are working feverishly to do that", military spokesman Restituto Padilla told reporters.

"We are saddened with the result.We have fatalities on the government side", he said.

"At the request of the Government of the Philippines, U.S. special operations forces are assisting the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with ongoing operations in Marawi through support that helps AFP commanders on the ground on their fight against Maute and ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) militants", according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Manila quoted by GMA news.

Reports from GMA News says the soldiers' encounter with the militants started Friday morning and lasted until the evening.

The seizure of Marawi on May 23 by hundreds of fighters who have sworn allegiance to Islamic State, including dozens from neighbouring countries and the Middle East, has fuelled concern that the ultra-radical group is gaining a foothold in South-East Asia.

Forty other marines were wounded.

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In more than two weeks of fighting, at least 202 people have been killed: 134 militants, 38 troops, and 30 civilians.

It was among the heaviest fighting seen in mainly Muslim Marawi as the air force battered parts of the city with strikes to support ground troops.

The military spokesman in Marawi said Friday's deaths brought the number of government troops killed in the conflict to 58.

Maute's husband, Cayamora, was arrested at a police checkpoint in the southern city of Davao on Tuesday. He added that the #United States will provide technical support to Philippine troops.

In response to this predicament, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared Martial law in the entire southern island of Mindanao and ordered the army to focus all resources on expelling the terrorist group.

A military helicopter prepares to land as fighting continues in Marawi on Friday.

Associated Press writer Jim Gomez and photographer Aaron Favila contributed to this report. It's unclear how many people remain trapped in Marawi as government troops battle Muslim militants led by the so-called "Maute" group but army officers have put the figure this week at anywhere from 150 to 1,000.

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