ILIGAN CITY –-Six soldiers were wounded in a firefight early morning Saturday with some ten armed men believed to be remnants of the Maute-ISIS group at the vicinity of Barangay Kalilangan, Masiu town, Lanao del Sur.
The town of Masiu is the known lair of the Maute family and was where Farhana Maute was arrested while hiding with their relatives last year.
Farhana, now jailed in a Taguig jail in Metro Manila, is the mother of Maute brothers who led the attack on Marawi City on May 23 last year
Major Ronald Suscano, officer-in-charge of the Public Affairs Office of the 1st Infantry Division, Philippine Army, said the encounter happened as the troops of the Joint Task Force Ranao responded to reports from concerned civilians about the presence of the armed men.
“Our forces were conducting combat strike operations as response of the report,” Suscano said.
The firefight lasted for about 35 minutes after which the armed men attempted to flee via Lake Lanao but the troops were able to sink their two boats with an estimated 10 members of the lawless terrorist group on board, according to Suscano.
The soldiers recovered one M203 grenade launcher; 2 RPGs; 3 anti-personnel 60mm RPG ammo; 1 anti-tank RPG ammo; three 40mm ammo; 1 hand grenade; 2 RPG fuse; 1 binoculars; an ISIS flag; and several drug paraphernalia.
“Our six soldiers sustained minor shrapnel injuries,” the statement of the 1st Infantry Division states.
This is the first encounter since the liberation of Marawi City from the presence of the Daesh-inspired fighters on October 2017 following the death of the two top leaders of Marawi attack, the Abu Sayaff leader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.
"We shall continue to totally eliminate the remaining Daesh-inspired groups in Lanao provinces and to sustain our efforts to prevent them from establishing Wilayat and spreading Daesh ideology in our joint areas of operation," Major General Roseller G. Murillo, commander, 1st Infantry Division, Philippine Army, said.
Government troops are continuing with their hot pursuit operations against the other remaining members.