Philippine police broke up a secret convention by an Indonesian sect and seized a black Islamic flag in the port city of Zamboanga, officials said on Sunday.
Some 200 people were gathered inside a compound in Sinunuc village where an Indonesian man, Mahsum Ahmad – of the Ahmadiyya Sect Muslim Community Philippines — was holding the meeting.
Police spokesman Inspector Dahlan Samuddin said the convention was illegal because its organiser failed to secure a government permit.
He added that a team of police led by Senior Inspector Hingming Ladjaali inspected the area after receiving reports from villagers about the presence of suspicious people in the area.
“During the operation, it was found that there were more or less 200 personalities present in the area including women and children. Most of the participants were from provinces [near]Zamboanga City.
“The police team confiscated a black flag printed with Arabic words, half-moon with a star beside the Philippine flag,” Samuddin said.
He added that the police took the names and photographs of all those who attended the convention and told them to leave the area.
Samuddin did not say if the black flag with Arabic inscriptions was similar to those being used by the so-called Islamic State or the local Abu Sayyaf group.
It was unknown whether the Indonesian man had a residency permit in Zamboanga.
Just recently, government troops also seized two Islamic flags and improvised explosives after fierce clashes with Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Hadji Mohammad Ajul town in nearby Basilan province.