MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Three Indonesians and a Malaysian were among 37 militants killed in a Philippine military assault that captured the southern jungle camp of an extremist band allied with the Islamic State group, the country's military chief of staff said Tuesday.
Gen. Eduardo Ano said 14 of the dead from a series of clashes in southern Lanao del Sur province have been identified so far.
Officials said an army general raised the Philippine flag in the camp belonging to the Maute armed band allied with the Islamic State group a few hours after troops seized it on Monday.
Ano said mopping-up operations are ongoing and troops are trying to locate Filipino militant leader Isnilon Hapilon to determine if he is still alive.
He said the killed foreigners were formerly with the Southeast Asian regional terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah but have since allied themselves with the IS group. Their deaths were confirmed through intelligence and through witness accounts, Ano added.
Maute 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.
The latest operation was a "deliberate military offensive, purely designed to degrade the capability of the Maute," Ano said.