GOVERNMENT forces killed three jihadists allied with the Islamic State in Maasim, Sarangani province, late Saturday afternoon, belated reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City said on Sunday.
Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, commander of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said the clash happened at about 5 p.m. in Sitio Lebe, Barangay Daliao in Maasim.
According to Valencia, residents in the area reported the presence of the armed members of the Ansarul Khilafah (Supporters of the Caliphate) Philippines (AKP) under one “Tokboy.”
“They were sighted so the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and the PNP [Philippine National Police] units launched the operation,” he said.
The group was the one encountered by the Philippine Marines in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat, which, according to Valencia, is also engaged in kidnappings.
“And they are trying to align themselves with ISIS, they are trying to affiliate with ISIS,” he added, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the other acronym of the Islamic State.
When security forces engaged the group in a firefight, Valencia said Tokboy and some of his men already left the area. There were reports that a foreigner was with the group and the military is trying to confirm them.
“Actually we have some reports na may kasamang [there was a]foreigner but we cannot confirm them immediately,” he disclosed.
Prior to the operation conducted by the Army’s 1002nd Brigade and the Police Regional Office 12, the Army official disclosed that a counter-terrorist operation was conducted that resulted in the arrest of one Mustapha Gansing on Saturday at about 4:25 a.m.
Seized from him were an Uzi submachine gun and various subversive documents that included diagram lectures on making improvised explosive devices.
Brig. Gen. Ronald Villanueva, 1002nd Brigade commander, said intensified operations against armed groups are in line with the government’s counter-terrorism campaign.
“The President [Rodrigo Duterte] is serious in dealing with ISIS or Daesh that is trying to enter our country. This is the reason why the AFP and the PNP jointly conducted this counter-terrorism operation to eliminate this threat that endangers the safety and well-being of the residents of Maasim and the neighboring municipalities of Sarangani province,” he said.