MANILA, Philippines – At least 30 members of local terrorist group Maute were killed following a series of clashes with government forces in Lanao del Sur.
The 3-day clashes began early dawn of April 21, when troops of the Joint Task Force Zampelan under Brigadier General Rolando Joselito Bautista launched offensive operations against around 150 Maute members.
The 103rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Tabak Division, of the Philippine Army said 3 soldiers were injured in the skirmishes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired terror group.
According to local government reports, the Maute members were regrouping to craft terror plans on still-unidentified targets, prompting the immediate launch of combat operations.
At 2 am on Monday, April 24, government troops clashed with armed Maute members for 3 hours, resulting in the seizure of an encampment.
Recovered from the encampment were an ISIS flag, rifle and fragmentation grenades, assorted items to make an improvised explosive device, a video camera, cellphones, assorted camouflage uniforms, 3 motorcycles, and two sacks of rice.
Also found were “documents of subversive value,” and an Indonesian passport owned by a certain Muhammad Ilham Syahputra.
An unidentified cadaver was also found at the encampment.
Stopping terror plots
Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, Jr, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said the operation was launched to contain the group and prevent them from plotting terror attacks.
“We have reasons to believe that the Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi Abu Sayyaf Groups already have ties with the Maute since last year, that is why we are in close monitoring of any activities that the Maute might be brewing,” he said.
“Your armed forces has the inherent duty to protect the people and the communities from any threat or terror, that is why we are aggressively launching combat operations to these targets,” he added.
Galvez said the ongoing operations are part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to crush local terror groups within 6 months. – Rappler.com