World Bulletin / News Desk
Six members of the Presidential Security Group and three soldiers were injured early Tuesday after a roadside bomb exploded.
Talking to reporters later Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would push through with a scheduled visit to Lanao del Sur on Wednesday.
“There’s trouble there in Mindanao. It is within control. But I have to go there tomorrow,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Duterte as saying during the inauguration of a drug rehab center.
“My advance party was hit by an IED. But I will go there,” the president added.
The violence came after ISIL-linked outfit the Maute Group recaptured a town hall Friday and other areas it had previously occupied in Butig town, in the predominantly Muslim province of Lanao.
The group -- believed to have around 200 members -- seized the building, a high school and mosque Friday, and hung black ISIL flags at some nearby buildings and houses.
Almost 35 members of the group have now been killed in three days of clashes and 13 soldiers wounded.
Duterte said Tuesday that he would take the same route Wednesday where the blast happened.
“I’ll take the same route. Maybe we can have a little gunfight here and there,” he said, saying he would also visit the wounded soldiers.
Duterte joked that if something happened, Vice President Leni Robredo was there to take his place.
“If I don’t make it, we have VP Leni,” he said.
On Monday, Duterte officially acknowledged that the Maute Group is connected to ISIL.
“We are not good today because finally, finally, intelligence community advised me that ISIS [ISIL] has finally connected with the group in the Philippines called the Maute," Duterte said in a televised speech.
The group is said to be actively recruiting minors for service as child warriors and using the stalling of a peace process between the government and the country’s one-time largest Moro rebel front to make inroads in a region torn by decades of armed conflict.