MANILA –Philippine troops, backed by airstrikes, captured a jungle camp belonging to an extremist band allied with the Islamic State group on Monday and killed several militants in the country’ south, military officials said.
Regional military spokesman Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera said an army general raised the Philippine flag in the camp of the Maute armed group near Piagapo town in Lanao del Sur province a few hours after troops occupied the rebel base.
At least three bodies of militants were recovered by troops in the camp, which had tents, bunkers and trenches, although intelligence indicated as many as 36 militants were killed in three days of intense fighting. Three soldiers were wounded, Herrera said.
Troops found homemade bombs, grenades, combat uniforms and passports of suspected Indonesian militants in the camp.
The Maute group is among less than a dozen new armed Muslim groups that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and formed a loose alliance in the south in recent years.
It has been blamed for a bomb attack that killed 15 people in southern Davao city, President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown, in September last year and a number of attacks against government forces in Lanao, although it has faced setbacks from a series of major military offensives.