Fresh clashes in Central Mindanao displace hundreds of families

Pursuit operations continue against combatants of a radical faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and remnants of the clan-based Maute group

Manila: Renewed clashes between government forces and Daesh-inspired terrorists displaced hundreds of residents in several villages in Lanao del Sur as the army pressed on with its operations to root out militants.

Col. Romeo Brawner, spokesperson of the Task Force Ranao, said pursuit operations continue against combatants of a radical faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and remnants of the clan-based Maute group.

Last week, military operations in Central Mindanao’s Liguasan Marsh delta left at least 20 militants dead including a Singaporean and four Indonesians.

Brawner said the operation in Lanao del Sur part of the continuing operations against the Maute and BIFF militants as fighting broke out last Sunday.

“There is an ongoing firefight between troops of the 6th Infantry Division and remnants of the Daesh-inspired Maute Group that escalated last Sunday, 17 June 2018,” he said.

“As part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) pursuit operation against local terrorists, they initiated air strikes and artillery fires a few days ago before ground troops assaulted the terrorist positions in the boundary of the municipalities of Tubaran and Pagayawan, Lanao del Sur,” he said.

He said the firefight erupted in the village of Guiarong, which is located in the boundary of Tubaran and Pagayawan towns in Lanao del Sur.

Some 723 families, or 3,571 individuals from Tubaran and Pagayawan have fled from the fighting and are currently being accommodated in various evacuation centres.

According to Casamila Sedic, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) of the municipality of Tubaran, Lanao Del Sur. the affected villages include Wago, Guiarong Tubaran, Malaganding, Tubaran Proper, Madaya, Gaput, Dinaigan and Alog.

In the town of Pagawayan, Lanao del Sur, some 255 families had left their homes and are not in evacuation centres.

Almost half of the population of the villages mentioned have already evacuated while residents of two other villages—Padas and Diampaca, were unable to leave as the military is still have to screen the evacuees for members of terror groups.

Government forces mounted a renewed drive versus the militants after remnants of the BIFF and Maute carried out attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Central Mindanao this month.

Air strikes last week destroyed IED factories in the Liguasan Marsh.

Last year, the Maute, aided by the Abu Sayyaf and other militants in Southeast Asia attacked Marawi City.

The five month long campaign killed more than a thousand militants and more than 200 government soldiers as well as 42 civilians. A large number of the city residents affected by the fighting are still housed in evacuation centres.


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