World Bulletin / News Desk
Philippine security forces said Tuesday that explosives were recovered during raids targeting a ISIL-linked armed group in troubled southern Mindanao.
Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command spokesman, said in a statement that five houses believed to be owned by the mother of “Maute group” leaders were raided early in the morning in Butig town in majority Muslim Lanao del Sur province.
The joint military and police operation was conducted after members of the group overran Butig for the second time this year, only to be pushed back by security forces.
"Joint law enforcement operations launched early today by the military and police against Farhana Maute, mother of the Maute brothers, led to the recovery of a firearm and several war and explosive materials," Tan said.
"An armed confrontation ensued, resulting in the wounding of a police, while undetermined on the enemy [side]," he added.
According to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Farhana -- a former government contractor from an affluent family -- is believed to be the financier of the Maute group, led by her sons Abdul and Omar.
Since the Maute group occupied parts of Butig late last month, clashes with government forces have reportedly left 63 members dead and 17 wounded. According to the military, one soldier was killed and around 38 wounded in action.
Security forces retook the town center Thursday, but the Department of Social Welfare and Development estimates that around 2,450 families -- or 12,500 individuals -- were forced to flee the violence in Butig.
The 103rd Infantry Brigade’s commander Col. Roseller Murillo, however, has warned residents against returning to their houses due to unexploded ordnance still being found in the area, according to the MindaNews website.
Over the weekend, the country’s one-time largest Moro rebel outfit warned that the Maute group’s presence has complicated the situation in Mindanao amid a delay in establishing an autonomous Muslim region.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said in an editorial posted on its official website that the Maute group’s “engagements with government [are] not covered by terms of reference” -- as is the case with Moro and communist groups involved in peace talks with the government.
President Rodrigo Duterte has sent emissaries to Butig to meet with Maute leaders, news broadcaster ABS-CBN reported, citing sources “privy to the negotiation efforts” as saying that the armed group responded by expressing willingness to talk.
In late November, Duterte -- the first Philippine president to hail from Mindanao -- invited influential relatives and associates of the Maute family, including two former mayors, to southern Davao City in a bid to tackle the conflict.
Last week, Duterte officially acknowledged that the group is connected to ISIL.
The presence of armed groups in the southern Philippines that have pledged allegiance to ISIL has prompted fears during a stall of a peace process between the government and the MILF that it could make inroads in a region torn by decades of armed conflict.Last Mod: 06 Aralık 2016, 11:31