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Hapilon stayed in Marawi apartment 3 months before fighting broke out

/ 04:28 PM October 31, 2017
Isnilon Hapilon - AFP videocap

This image taken from undated video, which was shown by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to The Associated Press, shows Isnilong Hapilon, the purported leader of the Islamic State group in Southeast Asia, in a meeting with militants at an undisclosed location. (Photo from the AFP via AP)

MARAWI CITY – The military continues its investigation of three owners of a three-storey, four-unit apartment building in Barangay Malutlut, where Hapilon stayed for three months before fighting broke out here on May 23.

“The investigation will be handled by the police. But we will ensure their rights will not be violated,” Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., deputy commander of Joint Task Group Ranao, said.

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Supt. Ebra Moxir, the city police chief, said the apartment owners, whom he refused to identify, already showed up to clear their names.

“They told our investigators they had no idea Hapilon was there,” Moxir said. “I advised them to also clear their names with the military.”

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Police said the apartment building is owned by a Bureau of Internal Revenue employee assigned in Cotabato City.

A member of the Special Action Force (SAF), who refused to be identified, told the Inquirer that he was staying just two houses away from the apartment, but he did not know Hapilon was a resident of their village.

“I really didn’t have an idea that he was near,” he said, adding that when fighting erupted he was trapped for two days before he was able to get out of the city.

Amenola Gandaw, a village councilman, told the Inquirer that Hapilon’s wife and six-year-old son were the first casualties when the fighting erupted.

The clashes flared up when military troops and police officers moved to arrest Hapilon. They were met by a big force of gunmen composed of members of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups, backed by an undetermined number of foreign fighters.

Gandaw said before the war, they noticed “a lot of people were coming in and out in those two units.”

“But we had no idea that he [Hapilon] was there,” Gandaw said. /atm

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TAGS: Isnilon Hapilon, Joint Task Group Ranao, Marawi siege, Romeo Brawner Jr.
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