Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines launch joint sea patrols
Share via Email
TARAKAN, Indonesia — Southeast Asian
Indonesia's military chief, Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo, said Maritime Command Centers were also opened in the cities of Tawau in Malaysia and Bongao in the Philippines. The information and intelligence sharing
The conflict in the Philippine city of Marawi has raised fears that the Islamic State group's violent ideology is gaining a foothold in the country's restive south, where Muslim separatists have fought for greater autonomy for decades.
Nurmantyo said the idea of the trilateral maritime patrols was initiated by the countries last year to maintain stability in the region in the face of threats such as piracy, kidnapping, terrorism and other crimes in regional waters.
Philippine military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the
He said immigration procedures should also be strengthened since they are the first line of
"The enemy we face right now is a different breed, and with the presence of foreign fighters in the area — a matter that we are trying to validate and prove based on whatever we recover from the field — is part of that continuing concern," he told reporters in the Philippines. He was referring to the reported presence in Marawi of foreign fighters, who he said bring a kind of terrorism seen in the Middle East but not practiced by local militants.
Thousands of troops and police are struggling to end the 28-day siege by Muslim militants aligned with the Islamic State group. Officials said the fighting has left at least 26 civilians, 257 militants and 62 security forces dead.
Monday's opening ceremony of the joint patrols was held on board an Indonesian warship and was attended by security officials from Singapore and Brunei, who acted as observers.
Authorities in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, have carried out a sustained crackdown on militants since bombings on Bali in 2002 by al-Qaida-affiliated radicals that killed 202 people. In recent years, it has faced a new threat as the rise of the Islamic State group in the Middle East has breathed new life into local militant networks and raised concerns about the risk of Indonesian fighters returning home from fighting with IS.
Marawi is 750
Associated Press writer Teresa Cerojano in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.