Indonesians and Malaysians were among foreign jihadists battling the military after laying siege to a southern Philippine city, the government said today, in a rare admission of what it said was an Islamic State “invasion.”

The army has deployed attack helicopters and special forces to drive rebels of the Islamic State-linked Maute group out of Marawi City and Malaysians and Indonesians and other foreigners were among six guerrillas killed on Thursday.

The announcement elevates the threat of what experts and the military say are moves by Islamic State to exploit the poverty and lawlessness of predominantly Muslim Mindanao island to establish a base for extremists from Southeast Asia and beyond.

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