400 families flee Lanao border communities after clash between Army, local IS gunmen
ILIGAN CITY—Hundreds of families have fled their homes in the hinterlands of Lanao del Norte for fear of more clashes between government troops and local affiliates of the Islamic State (IS).
As of Tuesday, the Army has counted a total of 406 families or some 1,700 individuals coming from communities bordering the towns of Madalum town in Lanao del Sur, and Munai and Tangcal towns in Lanao del Norte.
The evacuees are currently staying in a multipurpose building of Barangay Bayabao and in a gym Barangay Tangcal Proper, and in the houses of relatives in other villages of Tangcal town, according to a report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The UNHCR noted that the municipal government had provided the displaced families with relief packs.
The evacuations started on August 21 after a clash between Army troops and local IS forces in the boundary of Madalum and Barangay Lindungan of Munai town at past 12 noon.
No one was reported hurt in the encounter but government troops discovered traces of blood in the position left by some 30 local IS gunmen, a military report said.
Soldiers also recovered and detonated an improvised bomb left by the terrorists.
The clash is the second time by local IS forces this year. Last January, they ambushed off-duty soldiers in Poona-Piagapo town, killing three Army troopers and a civilian.
A small band of local IS forces are thought to be on a holdout in the hinterlands bounding Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur since being driven out of Marawi City after a five-month siege in 2017.
Lt. Col. Julius Librada, commander of the 5th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, said pursuit operations against the IS gunmen are ongoing. He said they have also asked civilians in the area to report to authorities the entry of suspicious individuals into their communities.
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