TWO soldiers of the 51st Infantry Battalion of Philippine Army and three alleged members of the foreign and local terrorist organization (FLTO) were reported killed while another soldier got wounded in the ongoing clash in the village of Bayabao Poblacion, Butig, Lanao del Sur Saturday evening.
Colonel Roseller Murillo, commanding officer of the 103rd Brigade Philippine Army based in Kampo Ranao in Marawi City told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone on Sunday evening, that an undetermined number of armed FLTO harassed the patrol base of Charlie Company of the 51st IB and the 2nd Platoon of 5th Mechanized Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army prompting the latter to retaliate that resulted to the five fatalities.
Murillo said a lull on the fighting occurred Saturday evening, but at dawn on February 21 it resumed after the blocking force of the army engaged in another firefight against the Maute brothers who are allegedly members of the said terror groups.
He added the incident has already been reported to the peace mechanism of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) while communication has been established at the North Eastern Mindanao Front of MILF for immediate resolution in the ongoing clash.
Colonel Noli Samarita, deputy brigade commander who manages the operations based in Lumbatan town also in Lanao del Sur, confirmed more armored tanks and troops have been deployed in Butig as reinforcement while two MG520 attack helicopters conducted an airstrike on Sunday.
"The Moro Islamic Liberation Front assisted the civilians toward a secured place for them to avoid the crossfire as the military troops have been occupying the municipal town hall,” Samarita said.
Samarita added that about 300 FLTO members have been grouped together with 50 armed men each.
As of press time, the shelling in Butig has not yet stopped.