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7 dead in Philippines clashes with Islamist militants
Published on: Monday, February 19, 2024
By: AFP
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7 dead in Philippines clashes with Islamist militants
A Dec 3, 2023 bombing of a Catholic mass in Marawi killed at least four people and injured dozens of others. (Lanao Del Sur provincial government/AP pic)
MANILA: Six soldiers and at least one Islamist militant have been killed in the southern Philippines, an army spokesman said Monday, as security forces hunted down fighters believed to have bombed a Catholic mass last December.

The clashes took place Sunday in the jungle near the town of Munai on Mindanao island, Philippine army spokesman Colonel Louie Dema-ala told AFP.

“This is part of the operation against the Dawlah Islamiyah. Unfortunately, we sustained casualties,” he said.

Four Philippine soldiers were wounded in addition to those killed, he said, while the retreating gunmen left behind the body of a slain comrade.

The Dawlah group is one of several small armed Muslim factions that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for a Dec 3, 2023 bombing of a Catholic mass in Marawi that killed at least four people and injured dozens of others.

The military said that 10 other Dawlah members were killed last month, including the bombers’ alleged leader Khadafi Mimbesa.

Militant attacks on buses, Catholic churches and public markets have been a feature of decades-long unrest in the south.

Manila signed a peace pact with the nation’s largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in 2014, ending their deadly armed rebellion.

But smaller bands of Muslim fighters opposed to the peace deal remain, including IS-linked militants.

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