Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Congress to extend martial law until December in the southern island of Mindanao, where the military has been fighting a bloody two-month insurgency by Islamic militants.
More than 500 people have been killed in the conflict, which began after a failed attempt by security forces to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a top Islamic State-linked militant leader. The insurgents burned down several buildings, including a church, and took several people hostage, prompting Duterte to impose a 60-day period of martial law on May 23 on the island of 21 million people.
The president’s order expires this Saturday, July 22, as mandated under the Philippines constitution. Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella told reporters in Manila Tuesday that Duterte has determined the rebellion will not be defeated by then.
More than 400 militants have been killed in the fighting.