Soldier killed, 8 others wounded in clashes with Abus, Maute in Marawi
One soldier was killed and eight others were injured as police and military clashed with members of the Maute and terrorist groups in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur on Tuesday.
The clashes happened in Brgy. Basak Malulut around 2 p.m. and is still ongoing as of posting time, said Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesperson of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division said.
The group of armed men was believed to be led by Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was previously based in Basilan. The military has previously reported that Hapilon was badly hurt in one of its airstrikes early this year.
A separate spot military report said that the Marawi-Iligan road is temporarily closed.
The Department of National Defense earlier said that Hapilon left Basilan province to establish a province or “wilayat” of the Islamic State in Lanao del Sur.
There were also circulating reports that terrorists raised their black flag at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center and attacked the city’s police station, but Herrera said they are still validating the information.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines said that the operation in Marawi was initiated by combined state forces contrary to other reports.
“We received reliable info on Hapilon and a number of his cohorts. Updates to follow as the operation is still ongoing. Please do not believe propaganda from other groups,” AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.
A staff member from the Marawi City local government said that they have activated a city crisis committee and peace and order council to pacify the situation.
Marawi City is nearby Butig town, where the Maute had previously established its presence.
The Maute group is one of less than a dozen new armed Muslim groups that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and formed a loose alliance in the southern Philippines in recent years.
It has been blamed for a bomb attack that killed 15 people in southern Davao city, President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown, last September and a number of attacks on government forces in Lanao, although it has faced setbacks from a series of military offensives.
In April, troops backed by airstrikes killed dozens of Maute militants and captured their jungle camp near Lanao del Sur’s Piagapo town.
Troops found homemade bombs, grenades, combat uniforms and passports of suspected Indonesian militants in the camp.
Residents took to Twitter about the clashes, reporting of gunfire, raising of black flags, and air strikes. JE/rga/AP