AFP chief confirms new militant group in South
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - August 29, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista has confirmed the existence of a small group of Islamic militants known as Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao in Central Mindanao.

Speaking before the Manila Overseas Press Club forum in a Makati City hotel Tuesday night, Bautista described this emerging militant group as spoilers of the peace process in Mindanao.

“This Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao is only a small group and they are spoilers of the peace talks,” Bautista said.

He said a joint operation has been mounted by the military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to “neutralize members of this group.”

However, Bautista did not directly confirm the direct role of the Muslim militant group in the recent series of bombings in Mindanao that claimed 16 lives. Eight were killed in powerful blasts in Cagayan de Oro City and Cotabato in the past two months.

There were intelligence reports that the Khalifa Islamiyah Min-danao, composed mainly of young Muslim militants, is taking its orders from their Jemaah Islamiyah handlers and trainers who are still operating in Mindanao.

The group has reportedly allied with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters of Ameril Umbra Kato, which is also opposed to the ongoing peace process between the government and the MILF.

“These are lawless elements and we are one with the MILF in going after them,” said AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan.

Without going into specifics, Tu-taan said the military and MILF have mounted a joint operation to prevent these lawless elements from further conducting any acts of violence with the goal of bringing them before the bar of justice.

Police have tagged the Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao in the Cagayan de Oro bombing, and have filed charges against one of its suspected members.

The existence of the militant group was uncovered two years ago but authorities just dismissed it.

ARMED FORCES BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS OF AMERIL UMBRA KATO BAUTISTA CENTRAL MINDANAO DOMINGO TUTAAN EMMANUEL BAUTISTA GROUP JEMAAH ISLAMIYAH KHALIFA ISLAMIYAH MIN KHALIFA ISLAMIYAH MINDANAO MINDANAO
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