3 suspected Maute gunmen killed in Lanao del Norte clash
PANTAR, Lanao del Norte – Three suspected Maute gunmen, including one who escaped from the Marawi City jail at the height of the May 23 city siege, were killed in a clash with soldiers here on Thursday.
Pantar Police chief, Senior Insp. Mohammad Doro said soldiers of the 4th Mechanized Battalion were conducting an operation in Barangay Lumba Punod here when they encountered the suspects.
Killed in the clash were Omar Mustapha Daiser a resident of the said barangay and was among the more than 100 inmates set free by the Maute group when they laid siege to Marawi City. The two other gunmen remain unidentified.
Meanwhile, according to the military and police, following their defeat in Marawi City last year, some Maute fighters who fled to various Lanao del Sur towns are now being led by Abu Dar.
Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Task Force Ranao described Abu Dar as among the subleaders of the Maute group and was a top aide of slain Maute leader, Omarkhayyam Maute.
“The alleged recruitment efforts for training of new fighters of ISIS-Maute terrorist group were also monitored in the municipalities of Piagapo, Lumbacaunayan, and Sultan Domalondong,” Brawner said.
Brawner said Abu Dar, who carries a P3 million bounty, used images of Marawi City’s destruction to recruit fresh young fighters.
“Their targets are the youth,” Brawner said.
Marawi City Police chief, Supt. Ebra Moxsir said based on intelligence reports, Dar’s group is highly-mobile and had been seen in the towns of Piagapo, Marantao, Tugaya and Tubaran.
Moxsir said most of the new members recruited by Dar were relatives of Maute gunmen, who have been killed in clashes since May 23.
Authorities added that efforts are now underway to prevent the Maute group from regrouping.
“Despite being defeated, the IS did not learn its lesson,” Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., the commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said in November.
The Maute group was founded by siblings Omarkhayyam, Abdullah and Madie here in 2012 and acquired firearms using the family’s wealth.
Maute patriarch, Cayamora, was an engineer while the matriarch, Farhana, ran a profitable construction business.
Mayor Dimnatang Pansar had categorically denied military and police claims about the alleged training activities being conducted by Islamic State-inspired militants in the hinterlands of this town. with a report from Richel Umel /muf