Foreign jihadists in cahoots with Maute group — AFP » Manila Bulletin News



By Genalyn Kabiling

The homegrown rebellion in Mindanao has turned into an “invasion by foreign terrorists” after some were among those killed in the intensified military operations in Marawi City, top government officials announced on Friday.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla has confirmed that Islamic State-linked foreign terrorists have connived with the Maute group in fighting government forces.

Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla

So far, Padilla said at least 31 terror suspects have been killed in the ongoing battle in Marawi, including Malaysians, Indonesians and Singaporeans.

“There are certain foreign elements here who have been in the country for a long time aiding these terrorists in skills related to terrorism, primarily bomb-making,” Padilla said during a press conference in Davao City.

“We are continuously verifying that there have been a number of them who have been killed. There is a certain information we received which confirmed the killing of 12 members and half of them are Malaysians, Indonesians, and one other,” he added.

Solicitor General Jose Calida said the presence of foreign “jihadists” in the country is “bothersome” since they intend to “make Mindanao a part of the caliphate.”

“What’s happening in Mindanao is no longer a rebellion of Filipino citizens,” Calida said in the same press conference. “It has transmogrified into invasion by foreign terrorists who heeded the clarion call of the ISIS to go to the Philippines if they find difficulty in going to Iraq or Syria,” he said.

Calida acknowledged that the connivance between local and foreign terrorists further justifies President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in the south.

He said the Maute group has pledged allegiance to the ISIS and now aims to transform Mindanao into an Islamic state. The infamous Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon has also been declared by the ISIS as its emir or leader in the Philippines, he added.

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