54 Bandits killed in Lanao Sur

MARAWI CITY – Fifty-four bandits and two soldiers were killed while nine other troopers were wounded in sporadic fighting between lawless elements and the armed forces in Butig, Lanao del Sur that started last week, the Armed Forces reported.

AFP Western Command (WESMINCOM) Spokesperson Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., said most of the slain bandits were killed by Army Artillery fire and air strikes from Air Force planes.

He said 22 of the 54 bandits were killed last Saturday in Barangay Ragayan, Butig.

Tan said the military launched the operation last Thursday against the group led by Abdullah Maute and his brother, Omar.

Tan said the group was involved in the recent kidnapping of sawmill operators and employees in Butig.

The military said the Maute group was also responsible for attacking military outposts and villages in the town.

He said the target of the military operations were the terrorists responsible for the beheading of two local farmers this month.

Tan identified the slain soldiers as Privates First Class Danilo Allaga and Mark Fernand Ortaliza.

“The troops continue to advance toward the enemy stronghold and defeat the local terrorist groups in the area,” said Tan.

Tan added that the joint operations include policemen, the Air Force and the Philippine Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade, the 5th Mechanized Battalion and 51st Infantry Battalion.

Government forces had been bombing the Maute group’s lair in Barangay Ragayan in Butig using OV-10 Bronco light attack aircraft and 81 mm mortars.

Tan said the Westmincom deployed units backed by the Air Force. 
He claimed that latest reports from the field showed that 54 bandits have been killed and scores wounded in the enemy side while two soldiers were killed and nine other troopers were wounded.

“The operations continued to neutralize all local terrorist group members in the area,” Tan said.

He concluded that the military had secured nearby communities to prevent the militants from taking refuge in the villages and mixing with the residents.

More than a thousand Maranaw villagers were displaced by the military operation.

Reports from the office Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. said the affected residents from barangays Coloyan, Samer, Bayabao, Raya Timbab, Sandab and Ragayan have fled their homes and are now in evacuation centers in the adjoining barangays Crossing Samer, Sandig and Malungon.

Provincial social welfare employees will start distributing food rations to evacuees on Tuesday.

The New Ranao Star

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