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Suspected safe houses of fleeing Maute militants closely monitored

A police officer holds a poster of wanted militants known as "Maute " group at a checkpoint set up at the entrance to Iligan City on Saturday, May 27, 2017 in Mindanao. Iligan city is one of the safe havens for the tens of thousands of Marawi residents who have fled their city following the rampage by Muslim militants. AP/Bullit Marquez
ZAMBOANGA CITY — Military and police forces are closely monitoring hospitals and suspected safe houses where Islamic State-inspired terrorists, who may have slipped out of Marawi City, can take refuge.
Col. Leonel Nicolas, chief of the Joint Task Force Zamboanga, said Monday they have anticipated the possibility that remaining terrorists may find their way out and try to merge in other areas just to escape military offensive operations.
“We are expecting those to come because of what happened in Marawi,” Nicolas told newsmen on the sideline of the commemoration of the 156th birth anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal at Plaza Rizal fronting the city hall.
Nicolas said the military, police and local government have contingency plans in strategic areas to quell a diversionary attack Abu Sayyaf and Maute supporters may use to cloak the entry of their companions slipping out of Marawi.
“So far we are checking on those reports and we have not monitored in our hospitals here,” Nicolas said.
On Saturday, the police and military confirmed and apprehended 13 suspected members of the Maute who slipped out in Marawi and sought treatment in Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center.
The police said two of those apprehended identified as Junaid Dimarugong, who is in critical condition, and Halil Saliling Ali tested positive for gun powder.
Nicolas said they also captured Saturday Hamsi Amajad Marani, said to be a close escort of notorious Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the designated emir of the ISIS in the Philippines.
Marani vehemently denied his connection with the group and claimed to be an agent of the military intelligence group.
“Definitely he is a member of the Abu Sayyaf that’s what we established before the operation. We don’t want to discriminate. We did our job based on the available data we have,” Nicolas said.
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