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Islamic State rumoured to be in Mindanao

COTABATO (UCAN): One of the top Muslim religious leaders in The Philippines has voiced concern over reports pointing to a growing presence of the group calling itself the Islamic State in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao.

“This is alarming, very disturbing,” Sheikh Abdulrahman Udasan, the grand mufti of the Darul Ifta of The Philippines, said on December 2.

The Muslim religious leader made the comments following recent reports that an Islamic State cell is active in Cotabato City and that three suspected combatants from the group killed in a clash with government forces in Palimbang town in late November were from Cotabato City.

Udasan described the group as being extremist and said that it openly flouts the teaching of the Qur’an.

The grand mufti said Muslim clerics in Mindanao are scheduled to meet later this month to discuss what to do about the reported presence of Islamic State fighters in the region.

The mayor of Cotabato City, Japal Guiani Jr., confirmed the reports.

“I am listening to information which says there really is an Islamic State group here,” Guiani said.

Without revealing where he got his information from, he explained that the cell has been actively recruiting people in the region.

“The recruits get free food and an allowance... This is alarming and our security personnel should look into this,” Guiani said.

The mayor added that intelligence reports say that there are already about 1,000 Islamic State recruits in central Mindanao.

“There were more than 30 students recruited in Cotabato City,” Guiani said.

He added that he had received information about the recruitment activities of Ansar al-Khalifa, a group known to have links to the Islamic State, as early as last year.

However, the government says there is no solid proof of an Islamic State presence in the area.

A major general in Mindanao, Edmundo Pangilinan, said that although the group in Palimbang is flying an Islamic State flag, the military is still trying to find solid proof that the organisation is present in Mindanao.


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