A ranking leader of the Dawlah Islamiya terrorist group, three of his fighters and four soldiers were killed in renewed fighting in the hinterlands of Tuburan town in Lanao del Sur, the military said Friday.
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Reports said Abu Dar, the chieftain of the Dawlah Islamiya was among those killed in the latest encounter. But Col. Romeo Brawner, commander of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade, said they still needed to validate the reports through a DNA test.
Abu Dar took over the Maute group last year following the death of its leader Omar Abdullah, who was killed along with Abu Sayyaf chieftain Isnilon Hapilon in the Marawi City uprising in 2017.
The fighting in Lanao del Sur erupted after security forces hunting the terrorists, spotted a 10-man Dawlah Islamiya group in Barangay Dinaigan, Tuburan at about 5:04 p.m.
Col. Gerry Besana, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command, said soldiers of the 49th Infantry Battalion were scouring a bushy portion of Barangay Dinaigan when they were met by a volley of gunfire.
Besana said soldiers seized two caliber 5.56 rifles with an M203 grenade launcher, a cal .45 pistol, hand and rifle grenades, ammunition and a bandolier.
On March 11, two terrorists identified as Abu Tahir and Abu Jihad were killed in clashes with soldiers of the 55th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Calaludan, Pagaywan town.
“We are advancing upon the enemy target with deliberate offensives, hitting and inflicting heavy casualties on Dawlah Islamiya fighters,” said Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of Western Mindanao Command.
“We console with the families of our departed comrades, who fought valiantly and paid the ultimate sacrifice. We lost not only brave warriors but comrades who served the nation with such devotion,” he added.
Meanwhile, Marines intercepted a shipment of bomb-making components off Simusa Island on the Sulu Sea, Besena said.
Besana said the Marines’ 83rd and 84th Inshore Boat Companies were on seaborne patrol when they chanced upon a motorboat with four people on board.
He said the motorboat was found to be loaded with 38 sacks of ammonium nitrate—a fertilizer that is also used in bombs—when the troops inspected the watercraft.
Besana said the ammonium nitrate came from Laminusa Island in the town of Siasi, Sulu and was en route to Basilan province when it was intercepted.
He said the four people aboard the motorboat were turned over to Col. Armel Tolato, commander of the Philippine Marine Ready Force-Sulu.
Meanwhile, Marawi City Vice Mayor Arafat Salic has been charged with rebellion before the Department of Justice for his alleged involvement in the 2017 Marawi siege.
Salic, who has been named in the narco-list of President Rodrigo Duterte, was brought by the Philippine National Police to the DOJ in Manila on Friday following his arrest on March 13 in Marawi City.
Col. Madzgani Mukaram, Lanao del Sur Police Provincial Office director, on Thursday said that aside from rebellion, the vice mayor is facing charges related to illegal drugs and murder.
Brawne said Salic underwent normal booking procedures when he was arrested.
“He underwent a medical check-up, debriefing and interview with the Philippine Army, the CIDG and the PDEA because of the other charges he is facing,” Brawner said.
However, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong ordered the PNP to release Salic because he can no longer be subjected to inquest proceedings.
Instead, the DOJ will subject the case against Salic through preliminary investigation, Ong said. With Rey E. Requejo, PNA
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