Suspected Maute members arrested; bomb materials seized in raid

CAGAYAN DE ORO (Updated) -- Three suspected members of the Maute terror group were arrested while explosives and bomb-making materials were seized in a raid Wednesday morning, July 5, in Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro City.

Members of the Martial Law Special Action Group, armed with a search warrant issued by a local court, raided the rented house of Irene Romato Idris at Residencia Apartment, Aluba, Barangay Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro City.

Idris is believed to be a financier of the Maute group, which has continued to engage government troops in a gunbattle in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur since May 23, 2017.

Police couldn't find Idris and instead arrested Gazim Mantawazi Abdullah, Monaliza Solaiman Romato, and Tahera Romato Taher.

All three are not included in the two arrest orders issued by the Department of National Defense against suspected terrorists and supporters. But they were identified by other suspected Maute members who were arrested in June, said Cagayan de Oro City Police spokesperson Chief Inspector Mardy Hortillosa II.

"Basi kini sa information nga nabutyag sa katong suspected bomber nga si Noaim Maute ug katong tulo nga nadakpan sa Coast Guard sa Iloilo port (The information came from suspected bomber Mohammad Noaim Maute who was arrested in Cagayan de Oro and three suspected Maute members who were arrested by the Coast Guard in Iloilo port)," Hortillosa said.

READ: 3 suspected Maute members held in Iloilo

Hortillosa added the three are not in the arrest orders issued by the Department of National Defense (DND).

But, Hortillosa said the suspects may likely face rebellion charges and illegal possession of explosives.

Authorities confiscated during the raid four M203 grenade (40mm HE), a blasting cap, nine volts battery with holder, a C4 explosive, eight detonating cord, 19 pieces 100 watts incandescent bulb, jungle knife, suspected ammonium nitrate placed inside a plastic bag, and suspected ammonium nitrate placed inside a plastic bottle.

Monaliza is the niece of the Maute matriarch Ominta Romato alias Farhana, Hortillosa said.

Hortillosa added Irene and Monaliza have allegedly assumed the task of Farhana as the group's financier while Taher was acting as the intelligence and liaison officer for the terrorists.

Police will probe the possible connection of Taher's father Abdullah to the group.

The Cocpo spokesperson said their initial investigation showed that Abdullah, Romato and Taher were allegedly the brains behind the reported bombing plot in Cagayan de Oro City to divert the military's attention from the war in Marawi.

He said Idris and Romato are believed to have assumed the tasks of Maute matriarch Ominta Romato alias Farhana, who was arrested June 9 in the town of Masiu in Lanao del Sur. Monaliza is allegedly a niece of Farhana.

Hortillosa said the suspects may have escaped from Lanao del Sur right after the declaration of martial law on May 23.

A notebook was also found, containing lists of alleged Maute members.

The suspects are being detained at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group inside the Army's 4th Infantry Division in Camp Evangelista, Patag, Cagayan de Oro City pending the filing of charges against them.

Mindanao is under martial for 60 days because of the battle in Marawi City, where government troops are trying to retake control of the city from the Maute group.

Fighting erupted in Marawi on May 23 after government troops raided the hideout of Muslim militant leader Isnilon Hapilon. As of yesterday, the militants, led by the Maute group, still control four out of the city's 96 barangays. The death toll from the fighting has risen to 459.
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