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DAVAO, Philippines – At least nine suspected members of the terrorist organization Dawlah Islamiyah who were allegedly behind the December 3, 2023 bombing during a Catholic Mass in Marawi, were killed during two days of fierce fighting in Lanao del Sur.
The clashes took place on Thursday and Friday, January 25 and 26, in the village of Tapurog, Piagapo, in Lanao del Sur.
In a statement on Saturday, January 27, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Romeo Brawner Jr. confirmed the incident, adding that military troops also recovered nine high-powered firearms and two improvised explosive devices. The military said they had also retrieved two-way radio equipment and smartphones near the bodies of the killed suspects.
“The precision and unwavering dedication exhibited in this operation, particularly in targeting the perpetrators of the Mindanao State University bombing on December 3, 2023, deliver swift and decisive justice for the victims of the despicable attack,” the AFP chief added
Earlier, Piagapo Mayor Ali Sumandar said eight suspected members of the Islamic State-inspired Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute Group were killed in the operation.
At least five Scout Rangers were wounded in the clashes with the group led by Nasser Daud, according to the military.
A report from the Army’s 1st Infantry Division identified two of those killed as Khadafi and Arsani Membesa, suspects in the bombing that killed four people and injured several others during the Mass at the Mindanao State University (MSU) gymnasium in Marawi.
Khadafi was referred to as “Engineer” and used the aliases Kadi and Akoya, while Arsani Membesa used the aliases Khatab, Hatab, and Lapitos. The two men were caught in the MSU’s CCTV footage shortly before the powerful explosion ripped through the MSU gym during the Mass last month. – Rappler.com