The Philippines Armed Forces reportedly killed 36 militants in a military operation in Lanao del Sur last week. (Reuters Photo/Ritchie B. Tongo)

Gov't Awaits Confirmation on Deaths of 3 Indonesians in Philippine Army Raid

BY :NATASIA CHRISTY WAHYUNI

APRIL 27, 2017

Jakarta. The Indonesian Embassy in Manila is currently waiting for official confirmation from military authorities to verify the deaths of three Indonesians in a raid on Islamic State-affiliated militants in the southern Philippines last week.

The Philippines Armed Forces (AFP) reportedly killed 36 militants in a military operation in the southern province of Lanao del Sur. At least one Indonesian passport was recovered in the raid.

Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, director of citizen protection and legal aid at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the embassy has been working to confirm media reports on the number of militants slain in the operation.

AFP representatives said last week's raid was targeted against members of the Maute terror group operating in the region, who are believed to have pledged allegiance to Islamic State caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in recent years.

"The Indonesian Embassy in Manila has asked for confirmation on the validity of those reports, but the AFP has yet to respond," Iqbal said on Wednesday (26/04).

"The AFP informed us that they will conduct DNA tests on the slain militants, but that also has yet to occur," he added.

Iqbal said the Indonesian Consulate General in Davao City – also located in the southern Philippines – received information from local authorities related to the discovery of Indonesian passports.

"However, the AFP is still unable to confirm whether the passports belong to any of the 36 people who were killed, and where they were found," Iqbal said.

Military personnel have taken over the main rebel base in the province as a result of last week's operation.

Gen. Eduardo Año, incumbent AFP chief of staff, said 14 of the people killed in the operation have been properly identified by intelligence officers and witnesses.

He said the military's cleanup operation is ongoing, as security forces are still looking for the group’s leader, Isnilon Hapilon.

Hapilon is said to be a former member of the regional Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network, which is responsible for several attacks in recent years, including the 2002 Bali bombings.

The Maute group is one of many Islamist militant networks operating in the southern Philippines.

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