US commander warns of more IS attacks in Asia-Pacific

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NEW DELHI: A top US military commander warned Wednesday that the Asia-Pacific region is at risk of attacks by Islamic State group fighters returning to their home countries.

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As the group loses territory in the Middle East, radicalized fighters from Bangladesh, Indonesia and elsewhere are likely to target their native countries, commander of the US Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris said.

“It’s not a theory. It’s real. In the past year alone, ISIL has made its murderous intentions clear in places like Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and the United States,” he said at a geo-political conference in New Delhi.

The warning follows a similar warning from a Jakarta-based think tank in October, which said the main danger lies in the strife-torn southern Philippines where a handful of Islamic extremist groups have sworn allegiance to IS.

Southeast Asia—parts of which have long struggled with Islamic militancy—suffered its first IS attack in January 2016 when extremists launched a deadly suicide bombing and gun assault in Jakarta, leaving four attackers and four civilians dead.

IS-linked militants also killed 20 hostages in a restaurant in Bangladesh last year in one of the deadliest incidents in the country.

Harris said India has so far successfully thwarted such attacks at home but called for a concerted effort by the global community to deal with the threat in the region.

Nearly 60 Indians have joined the IS group since 2014, according to an official count.

AFP

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