Lanao Del Sur

Seized rocket components indicate planned terror attacks in Mindanao – military

Froilan Gallardo
Seized rocket components indicate planned terror attacks in Mindanao – military

ROCKET COMPONENTS. Brigadier General Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of the Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade, inspects the improvised rocket components seized from a Maute-Dawlah Islamiya camp in Maguing, Lanao del Sur on Thursday, March 3.

Froilan Gallardo/Rappler

Soldiers stumble on a laptop which shows details about how militants are making rockets, says Brigadier General Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of the Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade

MARAWI CITY, Philippines – The military on Thursday, March 3, said Maute-Dawla Islamiya militants were planning to carry out a new wave of terror attacks in Mindanao based on the war matériel soldiers found following airstrikes and ground offensives in Maguing, Lanao del Sur this week.

Officials said the war matériel included improvised rocket components, indicating that the militants were studying new ways to spread terror in Mindanao.

Brigadier General Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade, said soldiers found six empty rockets made of aluminum from a house after they searched a captured camp in Barangay Ilalag, Maguing town on Wednesday.

“They were still empty of explosive materials and had no wire circuitry, but we found details about how they were making rockets in a laptop,” Cuerpo said.

The laptop was only one of the items seized by the military that included 45 high-powered firearms.

Seven caliber .50 Browning machine guns and bombs were among those found in the Maute-Dawlah Islamiya camp.

Aside from the war matériel, Cuerpo said, soldiers also stumbled on a makeshift workplace where improvised explosive devices were made.

IMPROVISED. Lieutenant General Alfredo Rosario Jr., Western Mindanao Command chief, checks an unfinished improvised rocket, part of war matériel seized by soldiers from militants in Lanao del Sur during his visit to Marawi City on Thursday, March 3.

The military said at least seven militants were killed in the assault in Barangay Ilalag on Tuesday, but it was uncertain if the new Dawlah Islamiya leader, Faharudin Hadji Satar alias Abu Bakar or Abu Zacaria, was among the fatalities.

A soldier and four others were wounded in the day-long fighting.

Major General Generoso Ponio, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said Zacaria was designated as the new ISIS emir in Southeast Asia after Salahuddin Hassan was killed by the military in Maguindanao in November 2021.

Hassan took over the leadership of the Dawlah Islamiyah after Abu Sayyaf leader Hatib Sawadjaan was killed in Patikul, Sulu in August 2020.

“This is the reason why remnants of the group of Hassan came over to Maguing to support Zacaria,” Ponio said.

He said at least 60 to 70 militants were training in the camp in Barangay Ilalag when Air Force FA-50 jets and A-29 Super Tucano planes bombed their positions on Tuesday.

Ponio said human body parts were strewn around the camp, making them conclude that the airstrikes inflicted heavy casualties on the militants.

“We think we degraded their strength by as much as 70%,” Ponio said. – Rappler.com

Froilan Gallardo is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship