(UPDATED) - The military on Monday, June 18, said it has continued its airstrikes in the hinterlands of Tubaran town in Lanao del Sur against the remnants of the Maute Group led reportedly by Abu Dar.
“Ito po ay parte nung ating military operations na sinabi noon na linunsad natin several months ago para matugis natin ang natitirang miyembro ng Maute ISIS,” said Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr., Joint Task Force Ranao deputy commander.
(This is part of the military operations that we launched several months ago to go after the remaining members of the Maute-ISIS.)
“Matagal na nating minamanmanan ang grupo na ito in fact noong nakaraang barangay at SK elections itong grupo na ito ang siyang pumatay sa isang kandidato para sa barangay captain dito sa bayan ng Tubaran kaya alam natin nandiyan siya sa area na yan, at recently nung na-engkwentro natin na-confirm natin ang location ng grupo nila that is why we are able to hit them nagkaroon ng airstrike kahapon at ‘yun nga tinamaan natin ang grupo nila at sa ngayon tinutugis pa rin natin tuloy-tuloy pa din ang ating operations,” he added.
(We have long placed this group under surveillance. In the past Barangay and SK elections, this group killed a candidate for barangay captain here in Tubaran town. That's how we knew that they are in this area. A recent encounter confirmed their location which is why we were able to conduct airstrikes yesterday. We are still conducting hot pursuit operations.)
The fighting broke out between the government troops and the remnants of the Maute extremist group exactly eight months after Marawi City, also in Lanao del Sur, was liberated from the terror group.
The conflict drove more than 700 families out of their homes in the towns of Tubaran and Pagayawan. There were no reports of casualties from either side as of Sunday night.
As of 8 p.m., Sunday, 723 families, or 3,571 individuals, from Tubaran and Pagayawan have sought shelter in Binidayan town, the provincial government of Lanao del Sur said in a social media post quoting a report from Binidayan Mayor Abdullah Datumulok.
A report from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) of Pagayawan said fighting erupted in Barangay Guiarong, a village situated between the towns of Tubaran and Pagayawan.
The firefight has affected eight barangays in Tubaran and six in Pagayawan.
A report from MSWD officer Casamila Sedic of Tubaran identified the affected barangays as Wago, Guiarong Tubaran, Malaganding, Tubaran Proper, Madaya, Gaput, Dinaigan and Alog.
Sedic’s report said around 500 families have evacuated. Some are housed in Tangkal Elementary School and National High School while others are in the multi-purpose building of Malaganding.
In Pagayawan, the MSWDO reported that 255 families were displaced as of Sunday night. Some 57 families are in evacuation centers in Toril and tent cities.
Affected barangays are Padas, Guiarong Pagayawan, Linindingan, Diampaca, Bangon and Madang.
“According to the report, almost half of the population of the said barangays have evacuated. There are some who were trapped in Barangays Padas and Diampaca as they cannot leave just yet pending military clearance,” the provincial government said.
Lanao del Sur Governor Bedjoria Soraya Alonto has reportedly asked the residents to “remain calm and pray for everyone’s safety.”
She also ordered the local disaster mitigation council to immediately provide assistance to the internally displaced persons (IDPs). (MVI and Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo/SunStar Philippines)