Philippine soldiers ride on a military vehicle while government forces continue their assault against insurgents from the Maute group, in Marawi, Philippines June 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
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The Philippines ruled out negotiations on Tuesday with Islamist militants holding hostages and occupying a southern town, after reports that a rebel leader wanted to trade a Catholic priest for his parents being held by police.Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said there would be no deals with the Maute group militants holed up in Marawi City because that was against government policy, and anyone trying to bargain had no authority to do so.Taking advantage of a short truce on Sunday to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday, eight Muslim leaders entered the conflict zone alongside rescue teams and met briefly with Maute, whom the military a day earlier said had fled the battle.Some 70 servicemen, 27 civilians and 290 militants have since been killed, according to government figures, and 246,000 people have been displaced from a town where some neighborhoods have been reduced to rubble.
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