BREAKING: Police Officer BEHEADED- America On HIGH ALERT

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Philippines — Violence erupted Tuesday after the army raided the hideout of Isnilon Hapilon, a commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group who has pledged allegiance to ISIS. He is on Washington’s list of most-wanted terrorists with a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.

The United States Embassy issued a warning to U.S. citizens in a southern Philippine city, Mindanao on Wednesday after terrorists linked to the Islamic State swept through the region, beheading a police chief, burning buildings, taking over colleges and jails, seizing a Catholic priest and his worshippers and raising the black flag of ISIS, officials said.

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The attacks left at least 21 dead.

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“While the U.S. Embassy has no information that the events in Marawi City represent a direct threat to U.S. citizens or U.S. interests in the Philippines, we encourage U.S. citizens to review personal security plans, avoid large crowds and gatherings, and remain vigilant at all times,” the embassy said in a statement.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law for 60 days across the southern third of the nation — home to 22 million people — and vowed to take tough action, Fox News reported.

“We are in a state of emergency,” Duterte said Wednesday after he cut short a trip to Moscow and flew back to Manila. “I have a serious problem in Mindanao and the ISIS footprints are everywhere.”

He threatened to extend it to the whole country “in order to protect the people.”

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“If I think that ISIS has taken a foothold also in Luzon, and terrorism is not really far behind, I might declare martial law throughout the country,” Duterte said Wednesday.

Duterte said a local police chief was stopped at a militant checkpoint and beheaded.

Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Pena said the militants forced their way into the Marawi Cathedral and seized a Catholic priest, 10 worshippers and three church workers.

Military spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo said 13 militants had been killed, and that five soldiers had died and 31 others were wounded. Other officials said a security guard and two policemen were also killed, including the beheaded police chief.

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Arevalo said troops had cleared militants from a hospital, the city hall and Mindanao State University. About 120 civilians were rescued from the hospital, the military said.

Thousands of people have fled the city, said Mary Jo Henry, an emergency response official. She quoted another official as saying Marawi was like “a ghost town.”

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Philippine intelligence officials believe Abu Sayyaf is a group of about 400 Islamic militants were earlier affiliated to Al Qaeda but have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf — armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles — has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines.

It is one of two militant groups in the south who have pledged allegiance to Daesh, prompting fears during the stalling of a peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that it could make inroads in a region torn by decades of armed conflict.

Abu Sayyaf is infamous for abducting foreign and local tourists, then ransoming them off and operate mostly in the southern islands of Basilan and Sulu.

Last year, the group beheaded two Canadian hostages after seizing them from a beach resort on Samal Island.

The bombing of a night market in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown Davao last year was also blamed on the militant group after one of the suspects in the bombing was revealed to be an Abu Sayyaf associate who once worked in the central Philippines.

In February, the group beheaded a 70-year-old yachtsman from Germany, Jurgen Kantner after his government refused to pay a $600,000 ransom.

Their most deadly attack came in 2004, when the militants bombed a passenger ferry off Manila Bay, killing more than 100.

The attack also became one of the country’s worst terrorist attacks.

Abu Sayyaf, whose overall commander is believed to be Alhabsi Misaya, remains one of the most serious militant threats in the region.

Last month, troops backed by airstrikes killed dozens of Maute militants and captured their jungle camp near Lanao del Sur’s Piagapo town. Troops found homemade bombs, grenades, combat uniforms and passports of suspected Indonesian militants in the camp, the military said.

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