Authorities have identified 5 of the 50 suspects in the explosion in Barangay Tongan-tongan in Madalum town, Lanao del Sur, on December 10, in which two civilians were killed.
According to Police Maj. Jolly Sabtal, chief of the Madalum Police Office, 6 friends went to the boundary of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte to hunt wild pigs. They met an armed group dressed in black.
The suspects took the victims to Tongan-tongan, tied up three of them, and forced them to kneel in front of an improvised explosive device (IED). One was also tied to a tree.
Two were killed in the blast, while two survived. They were not named for their safety.
According to the police official, the suspects took their other companions.
“Sa interview natin sa nakaligtas, na-identify nila ang mukha ng mga suspects. May gallery kasi kaming ipinakita ng mga suspected na DI Ranao (Dawlah Islamiyah) armed group. ‘Yung isa na-recognize niya ang mukha kasi isa ‘yun sa nagtali sa kanya,” said Sabtal.
(In our interview with the survivors, they identified the faces of the suspects. We showed them a gallery of the suspected DI Ranao (Dawlah Islamiyah) armed group. The one he recognized was the one who tied him up.)
Dawlah Islamiyah responsible for Lanao del Sur explosion
According to the authorities, it was difficult for them to chase the group because it was hiding in the boundary of Lanao Norte and Sur’s five neighboring towns.
The victims are all from Lanao Norte.
The casualties were buried this Wednesday.
The Maute group, also known as the Islamic State of Lanao, was a radical Islamist group composed of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas and foreign fighters led by Omar Maute, the alleged founder of a Dawlah Islamiya, or Islamic state, based in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao, Philippines.
The group, which a Philippine Army brigade commander characterized as terrorist, had been conducting a protection racket in the remote settlements of Butig, Lanao del Sur. It had clashed on several occasions with Armed Forces of the Philippines troops, the most significant of which began in May 2017 and culminated in the Battle of Marawi.