Thirty-six members of the Islamic State-affiliated Maute terror group were killed in a three-day clash with government forces in Lanao del Sur, the military announced today (Monday, April 24).
The gun battle, which started on Friday, ended this morning after the government forces occupied the terror group’s main camp in Piagapo town, Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera said.
Brigadier General Rolando Bautista led the raising of the Philippine flag in the area cleared of the group after the ground and air assault.
The security forces were able to seize the terror camp, fortified with bunkers and running trenches, and were also able to recover war materiel, camouflage uniforms, grenades, bomb-making components and an Islamic State flag.
Of the 36 members of the Maute killed, Lt. Col. Herrera said two appeared to be “foreign-looking.” Their identities are being investigated.
Three soldiers of the Army’s First Infantry “Tabak” Division were injured in the operations.
Nearly 2,000 people were evacuated from the area as fighting intensified on Sunday. They will be invited to return to their homes after the area has been confirmed clear.
Meanwhile, communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels attacked facilities at the Aliwagwag Falls, one of the main tourist destinations in Davao Oriental, at around 4.30am yesterday.
“No tourist was injured in the attack,” Captain Rhyan Batchar, chief information officer of the 10th Infantry “Agila” Division, said in a telephone interview.
Aliwagwag Falls is in Cateel town.
Batchar said a team of the Army’s 67th Infantry Battalion was assigned to the tourist spot to secure visitors, as the place is popular with tourists.
He said about 40 members the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Command staged the attack.
Batchar said the division was able to defend its position while the NPAs withdrew northwest of Aliwagwag Falls.
The gun battle lasted for almost an hour, and one soldier was injured.
“The place is secured right now. Pursuit operation is ongoing against the fleeing rebels,” he said.