Philippine Marines ride in a military vehicle as they advance their position in Marawi City, Southern Philippines, on May 30, 2017. (Reuters Photo/Erik De Castro)

Troops Deployed in North Sulawesi to Stop Marawi Militants From Entering Indonesia


MAY 30, 2017

Jakarta. The Indonesian army and the police will deploy extra troops to prevent Islamic militants from Marawi City in the southern Philippines from entering Indonesian territory, Chief Security Minister Wiranto said on Monday (29/05).

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-allied militants put Marawi City on the island of Mindanao under siege last week. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared a 60-day martial law in the southern Philippines on Tuesday as government forces tried to regain control of the city.

Marawi City is located 517 kilometers north of Sangir Island in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province.

Wiranto said security in the region will be boosted by deploying new forces.

"We will patrol the sea around [Sangir Island], and we will have troops on the ground too," Wiranto said in Jakarta.

Wiranto has asked National Police Chief Tito Karnavian and Indonesian Military Chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo to send troops in large numbers to North Sulawesi to prevent Marawi militants from entering Indonesia as they escape from Mindanao.

The minister added the Indonesian government will provide assistance to Philippine forces to quell the militants if asked.

According to Wiranto, ISIS has changed its focus away from Iraq and Syria to other countries with radical groups that support the movement, including the Philippines.

"They are attracting many sympathizers from various countries. It is very likely that there are ISIS militants from Indonesia," Wiranto said.

The minister added Indonesia has agreed to work with Australia to neutralize ISIS-sponsored activities in the Sulu Sea, southwest of the Philippines.

New Zealand, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines are also involved in the multi-country effort.

"Our focus is to prevent ISIS militants from consolidating themselves in Southeast Asia, particularly in Sulu and the southern Philippines," Wiranto said.