MANADO • Indonesia is not dismissing the possibility of sending its troops to the besieged city of Marawi in the Philippines, a top security official has said, adding that the archipelago will continue to strengthen security cooperation with neighbouring countries.
In a statement delivered after a high-level meeting in Manado, north Sulawesi, with the representatives of six countries last Saturday, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto said participants had agreed it would be impossible for a country to fight alone against the rising threat of terrorism.
Considering recent developments in the southern Philippines, which has been under siege by Islamist militants, and the fact that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) faction operating in Marawi was part of an international organisation, Mr Wiranto said the option remains open for the Indonesian military to be deployed in the beleaguered city.
"It is not impossible if some day we decided to fight them together in Marawi," he told reporters in a joint statement with Australian Attorney-General George Brandis.
In the forum, which was co-hosted by Indonesia and Australia, other delegates from New Zealand, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia agreed that the rise of ISIS in Marawi had sparked alarm in the Pacific region, and the countries would need to work together to keep the extremist group at bay.
The six nations agreed to boost information sharing as well as cooperation between their respective law enforcement bodies and firms that provide social networking services.
More than 600 soldiers, militants and civilians have been killed in clashes between Philippine soldiers and ISIS fighters since fighting began on May 23, and a large portion of Marawi has been severely damaged.
Meanwhile, Islamist militants in the southern Philippines have beheaded seven local loggers they kidnapped last week police said yesterday. Their bodies were found on Sunday in Basilan, police chief John Cundo said, blaming the killings on a faction of the Abu Sayyaf .
THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK