89 foreign terrorists in Mindanao? Gov’t forces still verifying, says Palace
(Updated, 2:23 p.m.) Security officials are still validating reports that 89 foreign terrorists are already in Mindanao, Malacañang said on Saturday.
“Authorities are still validating the report that 89 suspected foreign fighters are in Mindanao. They might have entered the Philippines via the backdoor or in other [points of entry] in Mindanao,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement read over state-run Radyo Pilipinas.
Government forces are currently engaged in a month-long clash with the Islamic State-inspired Maute group and their sympathizers in Marawi City.
While foreign terrorists may have made their way here, the Philippines continues to work with other countries, particularly Malaysia and Indonesia, to stop terror in the region. The three countries held a trilateral meeting in Manila on Thursday with diplomats and top security officials.
“This is the purpose why we are making collective efforts against terrorism and violent extremism through a trilateral cooperation with Indonesia and Malaysia,” Abella said.
“We have agreed to jointly develop and implement counter-terrorism measures and strategies to prevent future terrorist attacks in the region,” he added.
Maute financer’s death
Abella said the military was validating the intelligence report that Mahmud bin Ahmad, a Malaysian national who helped finance the rebellion in Marawi, was already dead.
“We have been told that the military has information of the spot where he was buried and government troops are now trying to locate it and recover the remains. Once done, only then can we make an official confirmation,” he said.
Abella said that as of Friday, 289 terrorists have been killed while 69 government troops have died in action. IDL
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