At least five Maute group fighters under their new leader Owayda Benito Marohombsar, alias Abu Dar, have been killed in military operations, an official said Monday.
Col. Romeo Brawner, spokesman of the Joint Task Force Ranao, said the five were killed after an encounter with the military in the forested ridges of Tuburan and Pagayawan in Lanao del Sur on Sunday.
“There are reports indicating that five members of the Maute-ISIS group led by Abu Dar have been killed. The military is still verifying these reports,” Brawner said.
He said the fighting between the terrorists and the military was still raging as of press time, and that ground troops were pursuing the other Maute members.
The military claims Abu Dar took over IS and its affiliate Maute group following the death of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the ISIS emir in Southeast Asia, during the war in Marawi City that lasted five months.
Abu Dar, along with Hapilon and Maute group head Omar Abdullah, who was also killed in Marawi, was in the batch of terrorist leaders that hatched the attack on Marawi City on May 23 last year.
Abu Dar, a senior aide of Hapilon, is leading the newly-constituted Maute group that continues to recruit new members by using funds collected from several commercial establishments in Marawi City.
Brawner said the presence of the terrorists was detected after extensive intelligence operations to locate the remnants of the Maute group after their defeat in Marawi.