THE Army’s 55th Infantry Battalion, (55-IB), under the 1st Infantry Division (1-ID) has confirmed reports that it clashed with around 22 members of believed to be “Daesh-Inspired (DI)” Lanao group under the leadership of Abu Dar in Barangay Calaludan, Pagayawan, Lanao del Sur 4:20 p.m. Monday, March 11.
The suspects were identified as alias Abu Tahir and Abu Jihad, based on the body counts and report of the locals, while two government forces were killed in the encounter and one was also wounded.
“We received information from the local populace on the presence of DI-Lanao group in the area and we responded to their call”, said Col. Romeo Brawner, 103rd Infantry Brigade Commander, which has operational jurisdiction over Lanao del Sur.
Troops also recovered one carbine rifle and lower receiver (part) of M-16 rifle.
“We are sustaining our focused military operation in order to destroy the remnants of this group (DI-Lanao) and make the province free from terrorist,” Brawner said.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the bereaved families and friends of our soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in protecting our people against the terrorist group,” said Brigadier General Roberto Ancan, the 1st Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Zampelan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao Provinces) Commander.
“Their sacrifices were borne out of their dedication to protect the Meranaos in pursuit of peace and development,” he added.
Additional troops were sent in order to pursue the fleeing terrorists as well as to ensure the safety and security of the local populace in the area.
Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde flew to the United States on Tuesday, March 12, to attend meetings and seminars on counter-terrorism.
PNP spokesperson Colonel Bernard Banac said Albayalde, PNP deputy chief for administration Lieutenant General Fernando Mendez Jr., and other police officials involved in anti-insurgency operations were invited by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to attend lectures in order to address terrorism issues in the country.
Counterparts from other countries were also invited to the event, which will be held from March 12 until March 22.
In the absence of Albayalde, Deputy Director General Francisco Gamboa, deputy chief for operations, will act as the PNP officer-in-charge. (Army PR with reports from Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo/SunStar Philippines)