An Indonesian jihadi was arrested while trying to escape from Marawi City today (Wednesday, November 1).
Despite the liberation of the war-torn city being declared last week, a number of fighters — described as “stragglers” — have continued to hold out in the main battle area.
Yesterday, an unidentified terrorist was shot and killed while also trying to escape.
The Indonesian, identified as Mohamadin Ilham Syaputra, aged 23, was caught trying to safety across Lake Lanao at about 7am this morning.
Military sources say the fluent Filipino speaker was carrying a grenade and attempted to pass himself off as a military intelligence officer.
He is now being held at Marawi City Police Station and is due to be flown to Manila later today for inquest proceedings.
Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of the Joint Task Group Ranao, said: “He is now being investigated by military and police investigators.
“Yes, he is an Islamic State (IS) supporter.”
Regional police chief, Senior Superintendent John Guyguyon said the Indonesian admitted taking part in other IS operations, including a battle with government forces in Piagapo, Lanao del Sur, in April – about a month before the Marawi siege started on May 23.
He said: “He was invited by Isnilon Hapilon to be part of the struggle here.” Hapilon was a former Abu Sayyaf leader named by IS as their regional representative, or ‘emir’ who was killed on October 16.
The militant also said that about 20 other fighters continued to hold out in the city, including a number of foreign jihadis.
“He had to kill two gunmen with him because they would not want him to leave,” Guyguyon added. “He said he was afraid. They were not fighting for anything so he thought maybe he could escape.
Colonel Brawner said even with the overall defeat of the terrorists, the area remained dangerous due to unexploded ordinance and booby traps left in every nook and cranny.
On Monday he reported that four soldiers had been injured in an IED explosion. In all, more than 2,000 IEDs have been recovered from the former battle area.