Lorenzana reveals nationalities of seven foreign terrorists training bombers

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 25) — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday bared the nationalities of seven foreign terrorists at large in Mindanao who were reportedly training suicide bombers as confirmed by the military's Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom).

"So, according to the Wesmincom commander there are seven foreigners, I think the nationalities are Egyptian, Malaysian, Indonesian saka [and] Singaporean," he said.

Lorenzana added initial reports say these foreigners are affiliated with the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan in Jolo. Sawadjaan was at one point the supposed emir of the Islamic State's faction in the Philippines, and was pointed to as the mastermind in the Jolo Cathedral bombings in January.

READ: Jolo blast mastermind is ISIS PH's acting emir – U.S. Defense

Wesmincom Commander Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana earlier said 42 other people are being monitored.

Lorenzana also admitted the military has received reports that over 100 terrorists are in Mindanao, but explained they cannot verify the information.

"We cannot find them so we consider those as just information and it cannot be confirmed," he said.

Mindanao has been placed under martial law more than two years after the ISIS-inspired Maute group attempted to take over Marawi City in May 2017. Congress has extended the imposition of martial law in the island-group thrice following consistent threats from the Abu Sayyaf, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, ISIS, and communist rebels.