COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 24 Jan) – An intense firefight between government soldiers and remaining members of the Maute-terror group linked to ISIS has erupted in Lanao del Sur early this morning and still raging by noon.
Senior Supt. Madzgani Mukaram, police commander of Lanao del Sur province, said they monitored the gun battle that started 8:30 morning in the forested border of Barangay Sumalindaw, Sultan Dumalondong and Barangay Piyangulugan, Marogong, Lanao del Sur.
“Our counterparts in the Army are requesting our reinforcements now. Our elite police force from Special Action Force (SAF) and provincial battalion force were deployed,” Mukaram said.
Col. Gerry Besana, spokesperson of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command, confirmed that troops from the 49th and 55th Infantry Battalions of the 103rd Infantry Brigade are holding their ground now in an intense battle, hoping they will get the leader of the Maute remnants, Abu Dar.
The group’s temporary encampment, where at least 20 armed men were monitored, was reportedly busted.
Asked if the Moro Islamic Liberation Front(MILF) have joined government troops after the success of the plebiscite, Besana said the effort was only initiated by government security forces.
No casualties were reported at this time, officials said.
The whole police force in the province, meanwhile, have been directed to intensify checkpoint operations to prevent spill over of violence elsewhere and to secure the safety of fleeing civilians.
The town of Sultan Dumalondong is adjacent to Butig, site of a week-long battle between the Maute group and government troops late in 2016, months before the same terror group laid siege on Marawi City.
Created in 1995, some of Sultan Dumalondong’s barangays were originally from Butig. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)