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Philippines says Muslim rebel whose forces back IS group has died, replaced by deputy

FILE - In this file photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011, Ameril Umbra Kato, the commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, rides a horse inside his rebel stronghold in Maguindanao province in southern Philippines. The commander whose rebels have pledged support to the Islamic State group died Tuesday following a long ailment, the Philippine military and insurgents said Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Nickee Butlangan, File)

FILE - In this file photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011, Ameril Umbra Kato, the commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, rides a horse inside his rebel stronghold in Maguindanao province in southern Philippines. The commander whose rebels have pledged support to the Islamic State group died Tuesday following a long ailment, the Philippine military and insurgents said Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Nickee Butlangan, File)  (The Associated Press)

The Philippine military says a Muslim rebel commander whose group has pledged support to the Islamic State group has died following a long ailment and was replaced by a Middle East-trained militant.

Military officials say Ameril Umbra Kato, who had links with al-Qaida-link militants and opposed peace with the government, died following a heart attack and was buried Tuesday in the south. He was replaced by his deputy Esmail Abubakar as new leader of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement.

Military chief of staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang urged Kato's estimated 100 fighters to rejoin the main Muslim rebel group that signed a peace deal with the government last year, or they face a continuing manhunt.

Kato spokesman Abu Misry Mama says his group will continue waging jihad, or holy war.