Fighters, including some children, shown in a training camp belonging to the Islamic State in Lanao group
Over the past two months, both the Islamic State and several groups in the Philippines loyal to the Islamic State have claimed responsibility for multiple attacks on Filipino troops.
In the past two days, social media accounts belonging to Islamic State groups in the Philippines have claimed three attacks, but gave no dates for the purported violence. On May 26, the accounts said that there was a “clash between the soldiers of Dawlah Islamiya (party of Allah) and Soldiers of government (party of shaytan)” and that a tank was captured in Butig. Additionally, the accounts claimed that fighters from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, engaged with soldiers in Maguindanao. CNN Philippines reported that the town of Datu Salibo in Maguindanao sees almost daily skirmishes between Filipino troops and BIFF and that Butig suffers the same reality with jihadists.
In another claim, jihadists reportedly ambushed a Filipino military truck in Lanao Del Sur. The last reported ambush of its kind happened back in February when an army convoy traveling between Marawi and Cotabato was ambushed, which left one soldier dead. However, suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) fighters ambushed a military truck in Sulu, wounding seven Filipino rangers on May 26. ASG is also suspected to be behind the killing of a soldier in Sulu, also on May 26.
On May 20, the Islamic State released an official claim of attack on Filipino troops, saying its forces wounded a group of soldiers in Basilan. The Islamic State also claimed an attack on a Filipino army position in Maluso, Basilan, on May 9. According to the statement, fighters loyal to the Islamic State killed one and injured another. The jihadist group also claimed capturing weapons during the raid. In late April, the Islamic State in Lanao released photos showing the beheadings of two purported spies of the Philippines.
The Islamic State did not give a location, but last month the jihadist organization claimed that its fighters in the Philippines have killed more than 100 Filipino soldiers in recent clashes. The Filipino government vehemently denied the obviously high number saying that only 18 of its soldiers have been killed in the southern Philippines area of Basilan. The Philippines also reported that 28 militants from ASG, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, were killed in the clashes.
Other groups allied with the Islamic State in the Philippines have not yet released media showing clashes with the Filipino government. ASG is the largest group to pledge to the Islamic State, as well as the most experienced and capable in confronting the Filipino security forces. However, the Philippines claimed it killed two members of Ansar Khilafah, another group that has sworn its loyalty to the Islamic State, recently in the southern Sarangani province. In response, Ansar Khilafah claimed an IED attack in General Santos City, which caused minimal damage. It also released photos of the two fighters killed a few days later.
In Maguindanao, the Filipino government blames most IED’s on BIFF. In March, it said over 20 IED attacks were the responsibility of the group. One of those IED blasts killed five civilians, including a young child.