03/01/2022, 16.18
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Air strikes against Dawla Islamiyya terrorists in Maguing

by Stefano Vecchia

Military operations began today at dawn, resulting in some deaths. On the island of Mindanao, Islamic separatism has given way to jihadi-inspired groups.

Milan (AsiaNews) – Philippine artillery and planes have been in action since dawn this morning in the hilly areas overlooking the city of Maguing, Lanao del Sur province.

The Philippine military is trying to neutralise members of Dawla Islamiyya, a terrorist group linked to the self-proclaimed Islamic State operating on the southern island of Mindanao. Their goal is to establish a foothold in Southeast Asia.

According to the Philippine military, some 40 members of the group are in the area, where, despite being thinly populated, clashes have caused some deaths.

Weakened by the killing of its leader Salahuddin Hassan on 29 October, Dawla Islamiyya, includes dozens of fighters who draw on the experience of Omar Khayam and Abdullah Maute, founders of the Maute group, which rose to prominence during the occupation and the subsequent siege by government forces of Marawi, an Islamic city in Mindanao, between May and October 2017.

Despite defeats, splits and realignments, Jihadi groups have not yet been eradicated in the Philippines. Mindanao and the chain of islands that reach the maritime border with Malaysia are a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf, a group that switched loyalty from Al Qaeda in order to work with the Islamic State.

Elsewhere, other groups, some very small, are trying to re-establish the caliphate in the southern regions of the Philippines and neighbouring areas in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Mindanao, which is a third of the country’s landmass, is home to a quarter of the Philippine population of one hundred million.

Here protection against Islamist groups has been entrusted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a guerrilla movement that stopped fighting the government and is now tasked with policing the region.

Tensions are not as intense as in the past but they persist. In decades of conflict, at least 120,000 were killed.

Since then, the nature of the insurgency has changed. Once local armed Islamic groups were motivated by a quest for autonomy or independence; now others are driven by international jihadism.

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