World Bulletin / News Desk
A Moro group involved in an ongoing peace process with the Philippines government has killed five members of a ISIL-linked group during a firefight in the country's south.
Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command spokesman, said in a statement Saturday that four Maute Group members and a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighter were also wounded in the 7 a.m. clash Friday (2300GMT Thursday) in a mountainous area near the town of Butig in Maguindanao province.
"MILF fighters providing support to government troops engaged withdrawing members of the Islamic State [ISIL]-inspired Maute group," he said.
The military has been pursuing the Maute Group since it stormed villages and looted houses of residents in Butig in November.
As the military slowly retook control of the town, 63 militants died and 17 others were wounded, the remainder fleeing into the surrounding mountainous area.
Tan said that on Friday around 30 Maute members tried to approach an open field at the foot of Mt. Cararao, only to run into MILF fighters armed with assault rifles and B-40 anti-tank rockets.
Von Al-Haq, spokesman of the MILF Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, confirmed to local reporters in Cotabato City that five Maute members were killed and a MILF fighter was wounded in the ensuing encounter.
The Maute group, also known as the Dawlah Islamiya, has boasted of an allegiance to ISIL and hoisted the black ISIL flag in Butig during November’s occupation.
The presence of such armed groups has prompted fears during a stalling of the peace process between the government and the MILF that ISIL could make inroads in a region torn by decades of armed conflict.