Army reports killing 20 ‘terrorists’ in clashes with Lanao Sur armed group
LUMBATAN, Lanao del Sur – The military has claimed to have killed at least 20 “terrorists” in its clashes with a “foreign and local” armed group in Butig, this province, that started on Saturday last week.
“From the military side, two were killed while six others were injured,” Col. Roseller Murillo, commander of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer late Tuesday.
Murillo said the military has been pounding on the location of what he described as the camp of a “foreign and local terrorist organization” or FLTO in the hinterlands of Butig.
“We will continue the operations until we achieve peace in the province and nearby places so that the people can continue living their normal lives,” he said.
The Butig clashes started when the supposed FLTO – led by the Maute brothers – harassed elements of the 51st IB, who were manning a patrol base in Barangay Bayabao, on February 20.
Col. Noli Samarita, Murillo’s deputy, said more armored personnel carriers and troops had been sent to Butig while the military also used two MG 520s in tracking down the armed men and in conducting air strikes against them.
Samarita said the military received reports that some foreigners were in the company of the 300-man group led by the Maute brothers, which was why it was regarded as an FLTO. He did not say what the group’s official name was but other reports pointed to it as a unit of the Ansar al-Khalifa.
Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong could only say that the armed group committed a crime and was being pursued.
He said nobody told him about the presence of foreigners in the area.
While the military credited the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for assisting civilians fleeing the Butig clash, it blamed a rebel group commander for Tuesday’s ambush in Balindong town that killed a soldier.
Murillo said the MILF forces ambushed a military convoy, which was on its way here to resupply government troops running after the Maute group.
“In an ambush that took place in Barangay Bubong in Balindong town on February 23 at 10:45 in the morning, there was only one reported casualty,” he said.
Marawi City Mayor Fahad Salic said some of the displaced residents of Butig had sought refuge in his city and have been provided assistance.
Adiong said he has formed a crisis management committee to oversee the welfare of about 7,800 evacuees.
Of the number, 335 families fled to Marawi City while 657 families sought refuge in Masiu.
The rest of the evacuees were scattered here and in the towns of Lumbatan and Lumbayanague. SFM
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.