Three army soldiers were wounded in heavy fighting against remnants of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group in Lanao del Sur Thursday morning.
Col. Gerry Besana, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command, said the troops engaged 24 Maute terrorists under their chieftain, Abu Dar, in a fierce gunbattle following an attack on their lair in Sultan Dumalondong at 8:10 a.m.
Besana said fighting still raged as troops from the 55th Infantry Battalion and 82nd Infantry Battalion moved in on the Maute encampment.
Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., commander of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade, said the area was under heavy attack by ground troops.
“They are well entrenched and on high ground. Troops are extra careful due to snipers,”
Brawner said, adding that Abu Dar was trapped inside the camp.
Dar survived the government’s assault during the retaking of Marawi City following a five-month siege by terrorists in 2017 and assumed leadership of the Islamic State-linked gunmen in Lanao del Sur.
So far, bad weather has prevented the use of helicopter gunships, he said.
Maj. Gen. Roseller Murillo, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said the attack was part of the military’s “relentless campaign” against the Maute ISIS remnants.
Murillo said intense pressure will be applied against the terrorists, particularly on those remnants in Lanao province.
Police said the military was using artillery to hit the terrorists hiding in the borders of Barangay Sumalindaw, Sultan Dumalondong town, and Barangay Piangulugan in Marogong town.
The town of Sultan Dumalondong is adjacent to the town of Butig where the Maute group first hoisted its black flag after they overran the town hall in 2016. With PNA