Troops to skip Christmas break as fighting erupts anew in Butig
ZAMBOANGA CITY—Barely two weeks before Christmas, clashes broke out again in Butig town in Lanao del Sur province, making the prospect of a holiday break a bit dimmer for soldiers this year.
Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesperson of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said members of the First Scout Ranger Company clashed with some 60 members of the Maute terror group in Barangay Sandab on Wednesday, killing a soldier and wounding another.
“The military continues to conduct operations to neutralize local terrorists operating in … Lanao del Sur,” Tan said.
Lt. General Mayoralgo dela Cruz, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said he was not sure if troops running after armed men belonging to the Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf can spend time with their families during the holidays.
“I’m not sure because I won’t be having a Christmas break,” he said. “I’m going around, visiting the units, before, during and after the Christmas season,” Dela Cruz said.
He said soldiers under his command may skip the holiday break to “make a significant headway in the campaign against the armed terror group and the war against drugs.”
On Nov. 24, armed men belonging to the group led by brothers Abdullah and Omar Maute stormed Butig and took over an old town hall and other sections of the town.
At least 61 members of the Maute group were killed while 35 soldiers were wounded as clashes broke out as government troops advanced to retake control of Butig.
Reports said 2,500 families evacuated as the fighting raged.
The military regained control of the town last week, after six days of fighting. —JULIE ALIPALA