AFP: 8 killed in clash have no link to IS
Despite the recovery of Islamic State (IS) flags from 8 gunmen killed in a clash in Sultan Kudarat on Thursday, the military said there was no verified presence or link of the extremist group in the country.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines maintained that the Ansar Khalifah Philippines (AKP) which had IS flags in its possession was simply claiming links to the international terrorist group.
Col. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesperson, said there was no basis to the claims of the AKP—a group notorious for its extortion activities in Sultan Kudarat—that it was a sympathizer or part of the IS.
“There is no reason for the public to fear because there is still no known verified links and presence of IS in the country,” Padilla said in a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo on Friday.
Padilla issued the statement a day after government troops under the Western Mindanao Command’s Joint Task Force Central killed eight suspected members of the AKP on Thursday in Palembang town, Sultan Kudarat.
While there were no casualties on the government side, the rest of the 40 suspects escaped after the firefight.
Aside from several firearms, explosive materials, radios and documents, five IS flags were recovered after the encounter from the supposedly IS sympathizers or supporters.
Padilla explained that it was possible that the AKP was merely pretending to be part of the IS but the military through its intelligence network saw no basis for this.
“It is possible that they are seeking attention by wanting to be linked to such a big group,” he said.
“The AKP claims affiliation with the IS and other extremist groups, but have no known verified and confirmed links to the said groups,” Padilla added.
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