8 foreign 'ISIS members' killed in Marawi - Lorenzana

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 1) — Eight foreign terrorists believed to be members of ISIS were among those killed in clashes in Marawi City, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday.

They are two Malaysians, two Indonesians, two Saudi Arabians, a Yemeni and a Chechen, Lorenzana said in a regular press briefing in Malacañang.

Asked if they are members of the international terror group ISIS, Lorenzana said, "I believe so. They are ISIS members."

He said "there could be more" slain foreign terrorists that authorities have not identified.

Civilians have reported "a lot of foreign-looking fighters" in Marawi, he added.

Although the government earlier said there is no ISIS presence in the country, Duterte on May 26 admitted, "You can say that the ISIS is here already."

Clashes between government forces and the Maute group in Marawi prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law throughout Mindanao on May 23. Lorenzana has been designated as martial law administrator.

The Maute have pledged allegiance to ISIS which seeks to establish a caliphate in the Philippines, although the ISIS has yet to officially acknowledge them.

Terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna earlier told CNN Philippines the Maute group is being guided by the ISIS.

As of Thursday, 120 Maute members and 36 government troops were killed in Marawi, Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesman BGen. Restituto Padilla said in a separate press conference.

He did not mention the latest death toll of civilians, but the military placed it at 19 on Tuesday.

Padilla said 90 of the Maute killed have confirmed body counts, while the remaining 30 were according to eye witnesses.

Padilla said the Maute, who earlier had 500 members, "are already dwindling in number. They are fighting for survival."