MANILA — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday confirmed that eight foreign fighters were among the Islamist militants killed by security forces in Marawi City.
At a press briefing in Malacañang, Lorenzana said it was Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Dangcal Alonto who informed him of the identities of the foreigners.
“There were two from Saudi Arabia, two from Malaysia, two from Indonesia, one from Yemen and one from Chechnya,” he said.
“We don’t have any record of them coming through the proper channel, through the airports. There’s only one way, maybe coming from Indonesia or from Malaysia, Sabah,” Lorenzana said.
In the meantime, the Defense chief said they could not confirm if there were more foreign fighters killed or fighting along with the local militants.
So far, he said that only 33 of the 95 militants killed in the fighting, including the eight foreigners have been identified.
“There could be more. There could be more that we killed that we have not identified because we have already — as of our body count – we already killed about 95 of them. So 33 lang ‘yung may identities eh, the others cannot be identified,” he said.
Identifying foreign militants of Malay descent is also difficult, he said.
“When the people from Marawi see foreign fighters… Because if you are… If a Malaysian and Indonesian who look exactly like us who will go there, huwag lang silang magsalita akala mo Pilipino ‘yan eh,” Lorenzana said. Cielito Reganit/PNA-northboundasia.com