New Delhi : India has rushed financial assistance of $500,000 (25 million pesos or Rs 3.2 crore) to the Philippines as it battles IS-affiliated terror groups in the city of Marawi, 800km south of Manila, in the troubled Mindanao province.
Intended for relief and rehabilitation, it is the first time India is sending aid to another country to save itself from deadly terror groups.
The aid follows a conversation between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Philippines’ foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on July 6. A statement by the Indian embassy in Manila says Swaraj expressed “sympathies and condolences for the tragic loss of life in Marawi city.”
According to sources, the battle between Philippines forces and IS-affiliated groups is “like 26/11, going on for the past seven weeks”. The fighting has claimed the lives of at least 90 soldiers, 380 terrorists and dozens of civilians, according to reports quoting the local police chief. Hundreds are still held hostage as the terrorists battle advancing forces. The battle is still under way.
India is now the largest donor for this crisis. China, which is Philippines’ new best friend, came up with 15 million pesos in aid.
As Filipino forces attempt to clear the besieged city, they are reportedly encountering snipers, booby traps, all indicating that the terrorists have been around for a while. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte put the Mindanao province under martial law for 60 days and is on record to say that he would complete the operation in another 15 days. The terrorists belong to Maute group, which is armed to the teeth and flush with foreign fighters from Malaysia and Indonesia.
This group is associated with the Abu Sayyaf group which is part of IS’ global footprint. The current battle started when the terrorists resisted the arrest of a leader of Abu Sayyaf.