MANILA - The bandit group which clashed with government forces in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat on Thursday is not linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham or ISIS, the armed forces clarified Friday.

Speaking on ANC's "Dateline Philippines," Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Restituto Padilla said that other than the ISIS flag found in the camp of Ansurul Khilafah Philippines (AKP) in Barangay Butril, there is insufficient evidence to tie them with ISIS.

READ: 8 killed in attack vs 'ISIS sympathizers' camp

"We just treat them as criminals and bandits at the moment. Their claim to becoming extremist terrorists are primarily motivated by trying to get sources of funds and extort money from the general business in the area," Padilla said.

"We wouldn't really categorically say that they are indeed extremist members of the ISIS nor are they affiliated with them."

Padilla also stressed that although AKP earlier proclaimed itself as ISIS sympathizers last year, they do not receive support from Islamic extremists.

"The group brought out lately some video materials claiming their report for the group ISIS. But per our information, there are no known leads and connections, or even support that comes from the ISIS themselves for this group and other groups claiming the same thing all throughout the Philippines," Padilla said.

"That's why we always constantly say and remind the public that they should not be scared because these things are just remote and simple attempts of some would-be extremist groups trying to get the sympathy of bigger ones."

Eight AKP members were killed in the joint security operation of AFP, Philippine Marines, and the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP) Thursday.

Padilla said government troops were supposed to serve four existing warrant of arrests against Mohd Jaafar Maguid alias Tukboy, who leads the group with Ansar Al Khalifa.

The soldiers, however, were attacked by at least 50 AKP members, resulting in a four-hour firefight.

Maguid, who is a former MILF member, has been tagged in extortion acts, wildlife smuggling and a bombing attack in Sarangani City in 2008. He escaped the raids.

Four of the eight fatalities in the encounter have been identified by the PNP, Padilla said.

The AFP, however, has yet to receive the PNP's report. Padilla also declined to confirm reports that an Indonesian terrorist was among the eight killed.

The army continues to monitor private armed groups and Abu Sayyaf Group rebels who hold several hostages in Jolos, Sulu.