Philippine military on alert following death of Islamic State leader Baghdadi

In a photo from Sept 7, 2019, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels stand guard at the entry of Camp Darapanan on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.
In a photo from Sept 7, 2019, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels stand guard at the entry of Camp Darapanan on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (DPA) - Philippine security forces were on alert on Monday (Oct 28) against possible attacks in retaliation for the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a US raid in Syria.

The Philippine military hailed the death of Baghdadi as a "severe blow on terrorist organisations around the globe" as it vowed to continue to hunt down terrorists operating in the country, mostly in the southern region of Mindanao.

"We expect that his death will impact negatively on the leadership of terrorists in various parts of the world," military spokesman Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.

"Our troops in the front lines remain on high alert to thwart possible attempts to ride on this development," he added.

Arevalo urged the public to also stay vigilant and report to authorities "any suspicious persons or activities in their localities."

"Vigilance will surely help security forces in our campaign to deny the ISIS foothold in our country," he said, referring to Islamic State by another acronym.

In 2017, Philippine troops battled hundreds of Islamic State-allied fighters who laid a siege on Marawi City for five months, killing more than 1,200, including civilians, and leaving the municipality in ruins.

Among those killed in the fighting in Marawi City was Filipino terrorist leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was reported to have been the emir of Islamic State in South-East Asia.

The siege on Marawi City prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao, which is still in effect until the end of the year.