Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines to join forces vs militants

Faith Castro
June 13, 2017

The total loss for government forces is now at 58, with the ISIS-linked militants' losses being estimated at 138.

When asked about the presence of American troops in Marawi, Kim said it was part of the continued United States effort to provide counterterrorism support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Bomb blasts rocked Marawi City in the southern Philippines on Monday as the national flag was raised to mark independence day, nearly three weeks after hundreds of Islamist militants overran the town and hunkered down with civilians as human shields.

During Monday's ceremony, three OV-10 attack aircraft dropped bombs on the areas where fighters were still holed up, while gunshots rang out across the mostly-abandoned city. The fighters have torched schools and churches, as well as killed and kidnapped Christians. The death toll for civilians was 20 and more than 100 had been killed overall.

The conflict in Marawi City has raised fears that the Islamic State group's violent ideology is gaining a foothold in Mindanao, where Moro separatists have fought for greater autonomy for decades.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson conveyed independence greetings on behalf of President Donald Trump and the American people, saying the U.S. stands as an ally with the Philippines as it confronts the attacks in Marawi and other terrorist threats.

"They were going to try to take over more than Marawi least two or three cities in Mindanao". "It's easy to jump from Marawi to Indonesia and we must all beware of sleeper cells being activated in Indonesia", Nurmantyo said.

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"The Chinese and Philippine peoples have a profound traditional friendship", said the Chinese president, noting that the two countries returned to the right track of good neighborly relations past year with efforts from both sides.

Southeast Asian nations believe the region is home to thousands of Islamic State sympathisers, and Indonesia and Malaysia have detained scores of suspected militants in recent years. Manila said this was technical assistance and there were no usa "boots on the ground".

A USA official, who requested anonymity, confirmed to Philippine media that the support they are providing to soldiers to suppress terrorism is in form of aerial surveillance and they are providing electronic eavesdropping and communications assistance.

An Associated Press journalist and photographer saw a U.S. Navy P3 Orion plane hovering in cloudy skies above Marawi on Friday.

The US involvement, made public for the first time Saturday, shows Manila's continued reliance on Washington's military prowess, despite an onslaught of anti-American sentiment from Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte since he rose to power past year.

"As we have in the past, we routinely consult with our Filipino partners at senior levels to support the Duterte administration's counterterrorism efforts", the embassy said.

"Other agencies of government were also requested to fly their flags at half-mast tomorrow (Tuesday), the first official working day of the week", said AFP spokesperson Brig.

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