SULTAN KUDARAT (UPDATE) - Members of the Philippine Marines, the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP) attacked the camp of alleged sympathizers of terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham or ISIS in Barangay Butril in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat.
Maj. Filemon Tan, spokesman of the military's Western Mindanao Command, said Marine soldiers clashed with members of the Ansurul Khilafah Philippines during a security operation in the area around 5:40 a.m. Thursday.
The soldiers were attacked by at least 50 members of the group, led by Ansar Al Khalifa and Mohd Jaafar Maguid. A four-hour firefight ensured.
The bodies of eight members of the group were recovered during the clearing operation. Among those recovered was the body of Ibrahim Alih, alias Abdul Fatah and Abu Fattah.
A military intelligence official said Alih is one of the foreign terrorists monitored to be operating in the country. They, however, are still validating whether the slain terrorist is indeed Alih or Abdul Fatah.
The source said the Ansurul Khilafah Philippines was founded a few years ago with the help of foreign terrorists. He said it is different from the more popular Khilafa Islamiyah which was blamed for a few attacks in Mindanao.
Ansurul Khilafah Philippines pledged allegiance with the ISIS last year, along with terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters
According to Tan, the Ansurul Khilaf Philippines is a "self-declared" terrorist group which intends to be identified as a group under ISIS.
Authorities also recovered five ISIS flags at the encounter site. - with a report from Francis Canlas, ABS-CBN News