Philippine Troops Kill Suspected Leader of IS-linked Group in Mindanao

Jeoffrey Maitem and Mark Navales
Cotabato, Philippines
Philippine Troops Kill Suspected Leader of IS-linked Group in Mindanao Philippine army troops patrol a war-scarred street in Marawi, three years after a drawn-out battle between government forces and pro-Islamic State militants who had overrun the southern city, in July 2020.
Mark Navales/BenarNews

Government troops killed five suspected members of an Islamic State-linked militant group, including its emerging top lieutenant, during a gunbattle in the volatile southern Philippines, the military announced Friday.

Asim Karinda (also known as Abu Azim), who was the new leader of the Daulah Islamiyah group, died in a clash with soldiers near the town of Mamasapano in Maguindanao province on Thursday, regional military chief Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy said.

“The recent armed clash with the Daulah Islamiyah Terrorist Group only shows that your security forces are persistent and committed to ensuring the safety of our communities and the Filipino people,” Uy said in a statement.

Four of Karinda’s followers were also killed, Uy said. 

Lt. Col. Charlie Banaag, ground commander of the 6th Infantry Battalion whose forces clashed with Karinda’s group, said the intense firefight lasted for an hour and occurred before dawn Thursday.

“Our ground forces recovered the abandoned lifeless bodies of Azim and his four followers after the firefight,” Banaag said, adding there were no injuries on the government side.

Karinda had recently replaced Salahuddin Hassan, a notorious bomb expert who planned and helped carry out high-profile attacks, as the group’s top leader, according to military intelligence reports. Salahuddin was killed in a clash with government forces on Oct. 29.

In the southern Philippines, where there are numerous pro-IS militant groups, this particular group is a collection of primarily hardline Filipino Muslim separatists who opted to continue fighting after the government struck a peace deal with the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front. 

On Wednesday, another suspected militant identified as Adsam, who is said to be the son of Daulah Islamiyah’s deputy leader Hasan Indal, was also killed in a military operation, the military said.

“I continue to call on the remaining members of armed groups to surrender and return to the folds of the law. Your government is willing and ready to help you live normal and peaceful lives with your family,” Uy said.

Daulah Islamiyah is based mainly in the central part of Mindanao, the southern region where a Muslim insurgency has raged since the 1970s. 

Some of its members were believed to have worked with foreign and local Islamic State militants who ransacked the city of Marawi in 2017 during a five-month siege that left 1,200 civilians, government forces, and militants dead.


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