Maute Group leader seen alive, unhurt July 17
Published: 4:51 p.m., July 23, 2017 | Updated: 10:50 p.m., July 23, 2017
ILIGAN CITY — Abdullah Maute, one of the leaders of a homegrown terror group that had pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS), is still alive and unhurt despite the daily air and ground assault by government security forces on terror positions in Marawi City.
Agakhan Sharief, known in the province as Bin Laden because of his resemblance to the late al-Qaida leader, told the Inquirer on Saturday that he was able to speak with Abdullah Maute on July 17.
“He is unhurt, but the military already cut off the communication signal inside the battle zone,” Sharief said.
He said mobile phone signal inside the war zone was cut on July 18.
Sharief was able to reach Maute after he was asked to lead efforts to bring out civilians and dead bodies through a peace corridor set up with the help of the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Silent on priest
Sharief said that in his conversation with Abdullah, he did not mention the fate of Fr. Teresito “Chito” Suganob, the vicar general of Marawi City.
Suganob and other hostages were seized in a cathedral as gunmen from the Maute terror group laid siege to Marawi City on May 23.
Sharief also said Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of Abu Sayyaf, managed to escape from Marawi.
“He is already outside Marawi City. He was able to get out last week of May,” he said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Sunday said that Maute members who would surrender to the government would be accepted and given necessary support by the state even as he stressed that soldiers will strive even harder to end the ongoing crisis.
“With the overwhelming vote of confidence from our legislature and the ardent support of the Filipino people, your defense department will strive even more to deal with the rebellion decisively and expeditiously,” Lorenzana said in a statement.
Lorenzana, administrator of martial law for Mindanao, said the government would help members of the Maute group who wish to reform to return to normal lives.
“But if you persist in your crooked ways, the Armed Forces and the police will come after you without let up,” Lorenzana said.
The military has listed 105 soldiers and police, 428 militants and 45 civilians killed in the fighting since May 23.
The military also reported that 526 firearms from the enemy had been recovered from the battle zone and 1,723 civilians and hostages had been rescued.
The clashes flared up on May 23 when soldiers and policemen moved to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, the acknowledged head of the IS in Mindanao, who is on the list of the US’ most wanted terrorists.
However, they were met by a big force of gunmen composed of militants from the Maute group, backed by an undetermined number of foreign fighters.
The fighting had displaced at least 400,000 people now staying in shelters or with relatives. SFM /atm
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.