Government troops have killed at least 11 members of a rebel group in the southern Philippines that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, the military said, sending local communities fleeing as a battle raged on Sunday.
Philippine soldiers and snipers and armored vehicles moved through the streets of Butig, on the southern island of Mindanao, as clashes over the weekend left 11 militants dead and five wounded.
The Maute Group, one of a handful of small militant groups behind years of unrest in the south, had since Saturday occupied parts of a municipality in Lanao del Sur and were holed up in an abandoned town hall.
At least four soldiers were wounded in the clashes and there were unconfirmed reports that the group had raised the black Islamic State flag in the hall, Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo, a military spokesman, said, according to Reuters.
“This was expected since they have long been professing allegiance to the foreign terror group,” he said. “This is still part of the Maute Group’s agenda in courting support and encouraging similar-minded individuals to support ISIS (Islamic State).”
According to Philippine journalist Chiara Zambrano, reporting from the location of the fighting, Maute Group rebels were able to raise the ISIS flag above Butig Town Hall.
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Featured image courtesy of Chiara Zambrano.