20 fully-armed terrorists, their families scamper while AFP pursues operation

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ILIGAN CITY —–  About 20 armed terrorists and their families now scamper for safety as the military pursues operation against them in Lanao del Sur.

Brigadier General Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade in Marawi City, said these armed group, identified as the new group of Dawlah Islamiya Lanao are on the run when combat troops of the 82nd Infantry Battalion discovered two temporary camps on October 29, in the hinterlands of Barangays of Tala-o and Taporog of Piagapo.

Cuerpo said the group is now on the run from the military’s continuous conduct of combat operations in the boundaries of Piagapo town in Lanao del Sur and Pantao Ragat in Lanao del Norte.

The areas, referred to by the military as “final harbor areas” of the rebels, “are forested and are located near the trails” according to Cuerpo.

“These are places where they temporary stay and sleep while running away from the military conducting combat operations,” Cuerpo said.

The two camps are one kilometre away from each other.

The armed men are bringing with them their families because in the first camp, Cuerpo said, they found used baby diapers, pantyliners, and female underwear.

They also discovered photos that made the military got an idea of the number of persons they have in the group.

The armed men are led by Faharodin Hadji Fatar, who is also known as Zacaria Abubakar, the sub-leader of the late Benito Owayda Marohombsar, known as Abu Dar.

The military is still verifying which municipality in Lanao del Sur Fatar comes from.

Abu Dar was the sub-leader during the Marawi siege in 2017. He was able to escape from the main battleground, continued recruiting and training new members in Lanao del Sur but was neutralized by the 49th Infantry Battalion in December 2019 in Tubaran town.

“Zacaria Abubakar replaced Abu Dar. He was the next senior member of the group. But we learned that even if they continue recruiting, they cannot be as powerful as before,” Cuerpo said.

The awareness and the cooperation of the Maranao in the community greatly help for the group not to stay with the residents in the area because they are afraid they will be reported to authorities according to Cuerpo.

“Dili nani sila mosalig sa mga taga-Lanao del Sur. Isumbong man sila sa amoa,” Cuerpo said.

(They don’t trust the residents in Lanao del Sur. They will be reported to us.)

In fact, this group is buying their foods from Lanao del Norte, passing through the boundaries in Munai town.

Cuerpo said most of the members they have now are former fighters during the Marawi siege whose youngest is 15 years old, whose father was a son of a former fighter who died during the armed conflict three years ago. Newsline.ph

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