Filipino soldier, militants killed in southern Philippine clash

Roel Pareño and Richel V. Umel
Zamboanga/Iligan, Philippines
Filipino soldier, militants killed in southern Philippine clash A soldier stands guard next to a road leading to a destroyed mosque in Marawi City, the capital of Lanao del Sur province in the southern Philippines on April 1, 2018.

A soldier and four Filipino militants from the local arm of the Islamic State group have been killed in fierce fighting in the jungles of the southern Philippines, the military and police said Friday.

The men died during a firefight between a unit of the Army Scout Rangers and members of Daulah Islamiyah in the village of Piangologan, Lanao del Sur province, late Wednesday, Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza of the regional police said.

Three other soldiers were wounded in the clash and three young men recently recruited to the Muslim extremist group were also “rescued,” he said. 

“Daulah Islamiyah” means “Islamic State” in the local language. Its membership comprises fighters from several Filipino militant factions, including the Maute Group, which provided men and logistics during a five-month siege of Marawi by pro-IS fighters in 2017.

The Marawi crisis was the biggest outbreak of violence attributed to IS in Southeast Asia, killing more than 1,200 militants, soldiers and civilians and leaving the city in ruins.

The militants killed Wednesday belonged to a group that threatened to launch attacks last week in the area, security officials said.

Soldiers from the 7th and 9th Scout Ranger Company caught up with the Daulah Islamiyah fighters on May 31 after tracking them through jungle territory, Army spokesman Maj. Jairus Mark Mira said.

In the heavy fighting that followed, Private First Class Jemric Pol Contingo was killed and three soldiers wounded. 

An assortment of weapons were recovered from the dead militants, Mira said, though several men from the group escaped.

Maj. Gen. Antonio Nafarrete, commander of the 1st Infantry Division that oversees the area, sought on Friday to assure the public that troops were scouring the territory and the group would be unable to carry out further attacks.

“Government troops will not stop pursuing the local terrorist group until they are all neutralized,” Nafarrete said in a statement.

The fighting happened days after military intelligence officials told BenarNews they had received reports that local DI leader Abu Zacharia – the IS emir for Southeast Asia – was preparing attacks in the region to avenge the capture of four of his comrades. 

Abu Zacharia, who is also known as Jer Mimbantas and Faharudin Hadji Satar, survived a number of military operations in Lanao del Sur last year. He was part of the Maute group that seized Marawi in 2017, but escaped capture by authorities. 

Little is known about him, except that he is a nephew of the late Alim Abdul Aziz Mimbantas, a ex-ranking leader in Lanao of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a former rebel group based in the southern Philippines that signed a peace pact with the government and now controls an autonomous region.


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