MAGUINDANAO – Security forces raided a hideout of a Filipino jihadist Maute group and arrested 11 people in Lanao del Sur on Monday as operations continue against their companions in the troubled province, officials said.
Officials said policemen and soldiers also seized assorted weapons, including a machine gun and an anti-tank rocket from the hideout in the village of Romagondong in Marogong town. The operation was so carefully hatched that all those arrested were caught by surprise by the raid and were not able to fight back security forces.
Those arrested have been identified as Abdullah Daos, Nasif Esmael, Gutingon Alah, Tayro Mamanoc, Ekmad Esmail, Alvin Adam, Monib Gutumongan, Ibrahim Caronan, Cayrodin Ditarongan, Camsi Lao, and Gaso Mazo Badua. All of them were being interrogated by authorities and initial investigations showed that the group may be planning to launch fresh attacks.
“As per initial debriefing from the arrested personalities, the Maute group is using the place as staging areas whenever they plan to conduct atrocities and bombing of different targets. They also revealed that most of the time, they provide and prepare the logistical requirements of their fellow Maute group members when planning for a specific terror act,” said Major General Arnel dela Vega, commander of the 6th Infantry Division.
He said the raiders seized one 60mm mortar, one M60 machine gun, one Barrette sniper rifle, one B40 rocket-propelled grenade, one M14 rifle, one M16 rifle, one Garand rifle, and one Carbine rifle.
Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, praised the capture of the militants and lauded troops for the successful mission. He said the Maute group continues to recruit members, especially the youth, and is believed to be working with other militants from the Ansar Khilafah Philippines operating in Mindanao.
Just over the weekend, Governor Mujiv Hataman, of the Muslim autonomous region, convened some 300 Ulama or Islamic scholars and religious leaders to seek help in an effort to fight extremism and terrorism, especially the violent influence of the Islamic State.
The three-day summit held in Cotabato City was also attended by police and military officials and other peace advocates and other stakeholders not only in the autonomous region, but also in Mindanao. Hataman said terrorists use inappropriate interpretations of Islamic principles to strengthen their cause and encourage the commission of vicious acts.
“We urge our Ulama that if we are on the right position, we should move to show what is right, and let’s condemn what is wrong,” he said, adding, the Philippines now ranked 12th among the countries heavily affected by terrorism according to the 2016 Global Terrorism Index of the Institute for Economics and Peace.
He said the presence of the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group, including other terrorist groups in the region brings the whole of ARMM at the forefront of the fight against terrorism in the country. Hataman said Muslim scholars can contribute to the advocacy against terrorism by educating people about the true teachings of Islam most especially on the principles of justice, compassion, peace and harmony.
Hataman emphasized that Islam means peace “and this can automatically counter terrorism and extremism, because peace in Islam is a key of association not isolation; it is a key of accommodation not marginalization.” (With a report from Rhoderick Beñez)
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