5 Maute men killed in Lanao Sur clashes

Military operations in Lanao del Sur left five members of the Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute group dead.

Hundreds of residents were forced to leave their homes as government troops launched pursuit operations against the Maute terrorists, police said.

Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., Joint Task Force Ranao spokesman, said the number of fatalities in the ongoing gunfight was yet to be confirmed.

He said the target of the military operations in Tubaran, Lanao del Sur was the group led by the supposed successor of Isnilon Hapilon, Owayta Benito Marohombsar alias Abu Dar.

“We are asking the public to stay calm,” Brawner told reporters in a text message.

He added that the Philippine Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade continues its offensives against the Maute group that seized parts of Marawi City last year.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is now securing and assisting the internally displaced persons at the evacuation centers,” Brawner said.

“The firefight that happened in Tubaran, Lanao del Sur on June 17, 2018 is part of the fulfillment of the promise of the AFP to go after the remnants of the Maute-ISIS group,” he added, using another acronym for IS.

In March this year, the military said Marohombsar could replace Hapilon as the leader of IS in Southeast Asia.

Hapilon was killed in the military onslaught in Marawi City last year.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, said Marohombsar is leading the remaining Maute members.

“As regards to information whether he inherited any key position, that is still subject for validation,” Arevalo said in a news conference at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Marohombsar is reportedly behind the transporting of looted money and jewelry inside the main battle area in Marawi City.

Arevalo said Marohombsar could be using the looted money in funding the ongoing clashes in Tubaran town.

“That is not far from reality for them to use those looted money…the looted cash is one of their motivating power by bribing the parents to have them allow their children to join their group,” Arevalo said.

The police said more than 700 residents were evacuated since Sunday as state troopers fought an an undetermined number of terrorists.

Senior Police Officer Alimoden Alimosa, Tubaran, Lanao Del Sur chief of police, said and the town’s social welfare office and the local government unit in cooperation with the military have distributed food packs to the evacuees.

Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman ordered social workers to look into the safety of the evacuees, especially women, children and the elderly; and to distribute food aid to refugee shelters in Lanao del Sur, one of five provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.


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