Members of a Christian group have taken up arms in a bid to stop the Philippines becoming the new breeding ground for ISIS.
The militia, who call themselves Red God’s Defenders, formed in the mountains in the restive south of the country where the terror group is taking a stranglehold.
Pictures show group burning the black flag of ISIS while fighters raise their weapons in celebration in a symbolic counter-offensive to the terrorists’ propaganda machine.
It comes less than a month after the terrorist group released its first video of a terror training camp in the Filipino jungle and a week after ISIS militants attacked Jakarta.
Philippine security forces have expressed concern over an ‘emerging threat’ of terrorism after suicide attackers struck the Indonesian capital last week.
It also comes after eight members of a criminal gang that pledged allegiance to ISIS were killed in a firefight with the military in the southern Philippines last month.
The hour-long battle took place in Palimbang, a remote town in the south – home to the predominantly Catholic nation’s Muslim minority and the scene of decades of conflict.
The bandits were from Ansar al-Khalifa, a small group that declared its support for ISIS in a video circulated on the Internet last year, regional military spokesman Major Filemon Tan said.
The larger Abu Sayyaf group has also pledged its allegiance to ISIS and is holding at least four foreign nationals hostages.
The group is demanding millions of dollars in ransom for their safe release and have released several videos threatening them with execution.
Tan said that five black flags similar to those used by Islamic State fighters were recovered from the bandits after the clash.
Criminal gangs operate kidnap for ransom and extortion activities alongside Muslim and communist separatist campaigns in the restive south.
The Abu Sayyaf, a group of several hundred fighters notorious for kidnapping foreigners for ransom, is also responsible for the worst terror attacks in the Philippines.
In 2004, it bombed a passenger ferry off Manila Bay killing over 100 people, Daily Mail reported.