Seven foreign terrorists are training local recruits in Mindanao to become suicide bombers, a military official said Tuesday.
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Western Mindanao Command commander Lt. Gen.Cirilito Sobejana said the terrorists, who are affiliated with the Islamic State terrorist group, are in Sulu, Basilan, and Maguindanao, “embedded” with the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Sobejana did not provide any other details about the foreign terrorists but said 42 other foreigners were on the military’s watchlist and are being monitored.
Reports about the seven terrorists have yet to be validated, Sobejana added.
Last month, a powerful explosive went off in a military camp in Indanan town in Sulu, killing eight people, in what was believed to be carried out by the first Filipino suicide bomber.
The Palace on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte would rely on the advice of key government officials in deciding if he will seek an extension of martial law in Mindanao.
Earlier, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said that he would recommend to the President the extension of martial law in Mindanao for another year due to the continuous rebellion there.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Duterte would consider “facts existing on the ground” if he will lift martial law in some areas such as Davao City, his hometown.
Mindanao has been under martial law since 2017, imposed by Duterte after the Marawi siege.
Duterte later asked the Congress to extend it until Dec. 31, 2018, on the grounds that rebellion still persists in Mindanao.
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