Philippines Army warplanes and heavy artillery are pounding targets in the nation’s Lanao Province today, aiming to flush the local ISIS-linked group, known as the Maute group, out of an area in which they have seized a town hall and established several fortifications.
The army’s report today was that there is still a “heavy engagement” in the area, and that they have killed at least 35 of the rebel fighters. 13 Philippines soldiers were reported wounded in the past three days, though apparently none were slain.
The Maute group has been blamed for several recent attacks by the Duterte government, and the military says they hope to “neutralize” the group outright soon to prevent them from spreading elsewhere in the area. Duterte has blamed the group on “contamination” from other countries.
Philippines officials first reported contact with the Maute group in 2013, claiming them to be affiliated with Jemaah Islamiya. Since then the group has been regularly seen flying ISIS flags, and officials say recovered documents indicate they are trying to get themselves formally recognized as an ISIS affiliate.
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