Alleged Maute subleader, member arrested in Manila

MANILA, Philippines – An alleged subleader and a member of the Maute Group have been arrested in Tondo, Manila, said the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) on Sunday, March 4.

In a statement, the NCRPO said suspected Maute Group subleader Nasser Lomondot, alias Muhamad Lomondot, and member Rizasalam Lomondot were nabbed in an operation on Saturday, March 3.

According to the NCRPO, Nasser Lomondot was "one of the key planners in the attack" on Marantao, Lanao del Sur during the Marawi siege last year.

"He also took part in the killings of innocent Christians [and] committed violence against women and children hostages," police said. (READ: The life of a Maute hostage in Marawi)

One hand grenade and one caliber .45 pistol were recovered from the two suspected terrorists.

They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition as well as explosives.

The NCRPO, Manila Police District (MPD), Philippine National Police (PNP) Intelligence Group, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), and the 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army conducted the operation that led to the arrests.

The Islamic State (ISIS)-inspired Maute Group had launched a 5-month assault on Marawi City last year, triggering fierce clashes with government forces. Terror leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute were killed in mid-October, and days after their deaths, combat operations were declared over.

More than a thousand people were killed in the Marawi siege, most of them terrorists. On the government side, 165 soldiers and cops died.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa recently warned that there could be a "Marawi part 2" in major Mindanao cities, saying that people in the region are most vulnerable to recruitment by extremist groups.

But Dela Rosa called for calm, reiterating that authorities are exhausting all means to prevent terrorism. – Rappler.com