Philippines Struggles to Suppress ISIS-Linked Rebels as Foreign Fighters Found by Jake Maxwell Watts, Wall Street Journal
Philippine troops accidentally killed 11 of their comrades as they battled Islamist militants, the latest in a series of incidents illustrating how the military is struggling to contain the threat of rebel groups.
Soldiers are fighting street by street in the southern city of Marawi with the Muslim-extremist Maute group, which raised the black Islamic State flag there more than a week ago after authorities attempted and failed to arrest the leader of an allied faction.
The friendly fire incident announced Thursday, in which an airstrike Wednesday used unguided ordnance after the military ran short of guided missiles, came as the government said eight of the militants killed in fighting there were citizens of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and other foreign countries. That announcement bolstered fears that the complexion of the Philippines’ militant uprising was becoming increasingly international, as Islamic State, also known as ISIS, loses territory in Iraq and Syria.
The threat is all the more severe given the longstanding failure of the Philippine military to eradicate the many extremist groups that recruit from the poor, marginalized Muslim communities in the jungles of the southern island of Mindanao. The region, which includes Marawi, has spawned and supported myriad insurgencies dating back to at least the 1970s. Successive governments have promised to bring peace to Mindanao, but none have.
Security experts fear that disparate extremists are coalescing in Mindanao under the Islamic State banner, establishing themselves in a country with a weak rule of law, thriving illegal arms trade and ready supply of brutal criminal factions…