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Dozens dead as Philippine troops, supported by gunships, fight militants in southern city of Marawi

13:45, Monday, 29 May, 2017
Dozens dead as Philippine troops, supported by gunships, fight militants in southern city of Marawi

ndonesians and Malaysians were among foreign Jihadists fighting the Philippine army in Mindanao island, Manila’s solicitor-general said on Friday, in a rare admission that outsiders were collaborating with domestic Islamist groups.
     Philippine troops backed by armoured vehicles and rocket-firing helicopters fought to retake control of Marawi City, which has been under attack by gunmen linked to Islamic State (IS) since a raid earlier this week failed to capture one of Asia’s most-wanted militants.
     Rebels have torn through the streets of Marawi since Tuesday night, torching buildings, taking a priest and his worshippers hostage and sealing off much of the city. The violence forced thousands to flee and raised fears of growing extremism in the country.
     US commander warns of Islamic State attacks in Asia-Pacific as jihadists go home

At least 44 people have died in the fighting, including 31 militants and 11 soldiers, officials said on Thursday. It was not immediately clear whether civilians were among the dead.
     “Before it was just a local terrorist group. But now they have subscribed to the ideology of ISIS [Islamic State],” Solicitor General Jose Calida told a news conference. “They want to make Mindanao part of the caliphate.”
     Calida said the Maute group and IS wanted to create an “ISIS province” in Mindanao and the government was not the only target of their aggression.“People they consider as infidels, whether Christians or Muslims, are also targets of opportunity,” he said. “What it worrisome is that the IS has radicalised a number of Filipino Muslim youth.”
     His admission elevates the treat of what experts says are moves by IS to exploit the poverty and lawlessness of the majority Muslim southern Philippines to establish a base for extremists from Southeast Asia and beyond.

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