An armored personnel carrier moves among vehicles of residents fleeing Marawi, Philippines, on Thursday.Ted Aljibe / Agence Francepresse DAVAO CITY, Philippines - Indonesians and Malaysians were among foreign extremists fighting the army in Mindanao Island, the government said on Friday, in a rare admission that outsiders were collaborating with domestic militant groups. Malaysians and Indonesians were among six killed on Thursday in battles that have raged for three days in Marawi City, where the army has been trying to flush out rebels of the Islamic State group-linked Maute group. The Philippines has deployed attack helicopters and special forces to drive gunmen out of the besieged southern city of 200,000 people, with 11 soldiers and 31 militants killed. Before it was just a local terrorist group. But now they have subscribed to the ideology of IS, Solicitor General Jose Calida said. They want to make Mindanao part of the caliphate. President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday delivered on his long-standing threat to impose martial law on Mindanao, the country's second-largest island, to stop the spread of extremism. He recently warned that IS group was determined to establish a presence in the southern Philippines. Calida said the Maute group and the IS group wanted to create an IS province in Mindanao and the government was not the only target of their aggression. People they consider as infidels, whether Christians or Muslims, are also targets of opportunity, he said. What it worrisome is that the IS has radicalized a number of Filipino Muslim youth. His admission elevates the treat of what experts says are moves by the IS to exploit the poverty and lawlessness of the southern Philippines to establish a base for extremists from Southeast Asia and beyond. Abu Sayyaf is notorious for piracy and kidnappings and beheading captives, among them Westerners. The Maute is a little-known group that has been a tricky foe for the military, and was blamed for a bombing in Davao in September, which killed 14 people. Reuters - Xinhua
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