6 soldiers killed in clash with terrorists in Lanao

6 soldiers killed in clash with terrorists in Lanao

PHOTO: Philippine map showing location of Lanao del Norte STORY: 6 soldiers killed in clash with terrorists in Lanao


PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines — In a major battlefield setback, six Army soldiers were slain in a series of encounters with Islamic State (IS)-linked gunmen on Sunday afternoon in the hinterlands of Lanao del Norte province.

Troops of the scout platoon of the 44th Infantry Battalion were on a military operation when they encountered Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute Group (DI-MG) militants in Barangay Ramain of Munai town, at past 2 p.m. on Sunday, according to the Army’s 1st Infantry Division (1ID) in a news release on Monday.


The DI-MG is a local affiliate of the terrorist network IS.


The clash site was some 20 kilometers from the national highway in nearby Kauswagan town.

After a two-hour gunfight, the terrorists, who were under the command of a certain Masod, withdrew toward the direction of Lanao del Sur province. In the wake of the battle, five soldiers were killed in action and another five were wounded.

A combat group from the 7th Scout Ranger Company also engaged another group of militants in a separate location.

A third combat group from the 8th Scout Ranger Company was deployed to the area to reinforce and extricate the casualties. One of those wounded was eventually declared dead on arrival in a hospital.

The four other wounded soldiers were now recuperating at Camp Evangelista Station Hospital in Cagayan de Oro City.

The Army said three DI-MG gunmen were slain and several others were wounded in the clash, with one of the bodies having been recovered by soldiers. Various war materials were seized, including an M16, an M14 rifle, and an M203 grenade launcher. The Army added that several terrorists were also wounded.


MSU bombing suspects

Col. Louie Dema-ala, the Army’s public affairs chief, said the government troops were pursuing perpetrators of the bombing of the Mindanao State University (MSU) gym in December last year.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said the operation was part of “continuing efforts” to go after the suspects from the MSU bombing in December that killed four people and left 50 others injured.

“However, six of our valiant soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice while another four were wounded … I extend my sincerest condolences to the families of our slain soldiers and offer the AFP’s support in this very trying time,” Brawner said in a statement on Monday.

The recent setback in Munai came three weeks after soldiers successfully busted DI gunmen holed up in Piagapo, Lanao del Sur, on Jan. 25 and Jan. 26, resulting in the death of nine terrorists, three of whom were identified to have been responsible for the MSU bombing.

Brawner said their successful operations had resulted to the neutralization of 18 DI-MG members, including Khadafi Mimbesa or “Engineer,” the supposed mastermind of the December bombing.

Bravery hailed

“The Philippine Army deeply condoles with the families of our six fallen heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice in a series of encounter[s] against Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute Group terrorists … While it is an unfortunate day for us, the ultimate sacrifice made by our soldiers only strengthen[s] our determination to end the local terrorist groups once and for all,” said a statement from Army chief Lt. Gen. Roy Galido.

Maj. Gen. Gabriel Viray III, 1ID commander, cited the “bravery and dedication of the troops” who figured in the Munai encounter.

READ: Six soldiers, three Maute fighters killed in Lanao del Norte clash

“Their courage in the face of danger and their commitment to protecting our communities are truly commendable despite the challenges … I extend my deepest condolences to the families of our fallen heroes and wish a speedy recovery to those injured in the line of duty,” Viray said.

Viray noted that the troops were experiencing “poor visibility due to thick fog” as they pursued the DI gunmen.

In light of the Munai encounters, Brig. Gen. Anthon Abrina, commander of the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, deployed troops in Kauswagan, Bacolod, Maigo and Tangcal towns of Lanao del Norte to augment the operating troops in Munai and to serve as blocking force.

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Abrina also ordered heightened security measures in Iligan City.

TAGS: Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute Group, Lanao del Norter clash, Philippine Army

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