‘Islamic State’ in Mindanao
MARAWI CITY – Sporadic clashes between security forces and jihadists continue in Lanao del Sur, one of 5 provinces under the troubled Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines.
Various sources said at least 2 jihadists were killed in the clashes which erupted last week, but still continuing in the town of Butig where military forces were trying to flush out the group of Abdullah Maute which is fighting for Islamic caliphate in the volatile region.
Maute, leader of the so-called Islamic State Ranao, is said to be coddling Indonesian and Malaysian militants in the province.
Military propaganda claimed that more than 50 jihadists were killed in the battle, but troops had not recovered the bodies of those slain in the fighting. The reports cited raw intelligence from villagers.
At least 2 soldiers were also killed and about 10 others wounded in the clashes that started late last month. Ground troops were being supported by artillery fire and aerial bombardments by aging OV-10 aircrafts from the air force.
The governor of Lanao del Sur, Bombit Adiong, has not issued any statement on the fighting, but the regional government has began relief operations in many villages where civilians had evacuated for fear of being caught in the crossfire or mistaken for members or supporters of the jihadist group.
Just this year, jihadists beheaded two brothers – Salvador and Makol Hanobas – who were accused by Maute’s group as government spies. There were among 6 sawmill operators seized by gunmen on April in the province. The others – Julieto Hanobas, Alfredo Anoos, Gabriel Permites and Adones Mendez – were freed unharmed following negotiations by their Muslim employer.
Members of the jihadist group Ansarul Khilafah also captured and decapitated another man in Sarangani province after being accused as a police spy.