3 killed in Philippine army attack on Muslim militant camp

March 1, 2022 GMT

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines (AP) — Philippine troops backed by fighter jets attacked a remote camp of Muslim militants linked to the Islamic State group on Tuesday in a predawn assault in the country’s south that left two insurgents and a soldier dead, military officials said.

Two soldiers were wounded in the assault on the camp of about 50 Dawlah Islamiya group fighters near the town of Maguing in Lanao del Sur province. Air force fighter jets dropped a dozen bombs as army troops launched a ground attack, said regional military commander Lt. Gen. Alfredo Rosario Jr.

The gunmen fled after the airstrikes and were being pursued, Rosario and other military officials said. The assault was staged far from rural communities to prevent civilians from being caught in the crossfire, they said.

Military officials said troops were continuing to clash sporadically with fleeing militants led by a militant commander they identified as Abu Zacharia.

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Members of Dawlah Islamiya were involved in a 2017 siege of southern Marawi city, where hundreds of militants waving Islamic State group-style black flags occupied commercial buildings and villages and took hostages. Filipino troops, backed by U.S. and Australian surveillance aircraft, quelled the five-month siege, which left about 1,200 people dead, mostly militants.

The military has been launching offensives against small armed groups allied with the militants who laid siege on Marawi, including the Abu Sayyaf, which has been blacklisted by the U.S. and the Philippines for past bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings.