Gov’t troops kill 22 terror group members in Lanao del Sur
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—At least 22 members of a local terror group based in Butig, Lanao del Sur, had been killed in a series of clashes with government troops there since May 26, the military said on Saturday.
Two soldiers were also slain and nine other government troopers had been injured in the clashes, according to Maj. Filemon Tan, the spokesperson of the military’s Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City.
Tan, whose unit has jurisdiction over Lanao del Sur and other areas of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said government forces launched a massive military operation in Butig against the Maute group.
“The combined military forces from the 5th Mechanized Battalion, 51st Infantry Battalion and Philippine Air Force have been conducting intense military operations against a notorious LTG (local terror group) in Barangay Ragayan, Butig, Lanao del Sur since May 26, 2016 that resulted in a series of encounters, the deaths of two Army soldiers, and the wounding of nine others while 22 were killed on the LTG based on intelligence reports,” Tan said.
Government forces were still pursuing the armed group in the area, he said.
In Marawi City, the Lanao del Sur police said it was helping in the operation by blocking possible entry and exit areas.
“Our role is to ensure that no other armed group could provide support to the local terrorists and to ensure that none of its members could escape from the ongoing firefight,” Senior Supt. Rustom Duran, the Lanao del Sur police chief, said.
Duran said the massive military operation also involved air and ground assets.
The Maute group was blamed for the series of kidnappings in the province and was also said to be responsible for the beheading of two sawmill workers in Butig last month.
It was also the subject of intense operations between February and March, during which some of its leaders had been slain.
The group had allegedly professed allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or Isis.
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