9 slain in Lanao del Norte clashes

Roel Pareño, Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star
9 slain in Lanao del Norte clashes
Satellite image shows Munai in Lanao del Norte
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ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Six soldiers and three terrorists tagged in a bomb attack on Mindanao State University (MSU) were killed in a series of encounters in the hinterlands of Munai, Lanao del Norte on Sunday.

Four more soldiers were wounded in the firefights that were part of a military operation against the Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute group.

The first encounter broke out when troopers of the Army’s 44th Infantry Battalion (44IB) encountered a group of terrorists in Barangay Ramain, according to a report of the Army’s 1st Division.

As the firefight continued, a fresh encounter broke out between troopers of the 7th Scout Ranger Company and another group of terrorists believed to be trying to reinforce their comrades.

The second encounter lasted two hours before the terrorists retreated.

The first firefight resulted in the death of six soldiers and wounded four others, according to Maj. Gen. Gabriel Viray, chief of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division.

A third combat group from the 8th Scout Ranger Company reinforced the 44IB troopers to extricate the wounded and the casualties, Viray said.

He said ground forces confirmed that at least three terrorists died in the encounter, although only one body was recovered from the scene of the clash.

Troopers also recovered two rifles, a grenade launcher and war materials from the slain terrorist.

Viray hailed the troopers for continuing to fight despite poor visibility. He said that thick fog blanketed the area.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said the recent firefight brought to 18 the number of terrorists killed in relentless military operations.

Last month, the alleged mastermind in the MSU bombing – Khadafi Mimbesa, alias “Engineer” – was killed in an encounter in Lanao del Sur.

Mimbesa had been designated as a “global terrorist” by the United States.

Aside from Mimbesa, eight other terrorists were killed in the firefight in Piagapo town.

“However, six of our valiant soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice while another four were wounded. The wounded were evacuated to Camp Evangelista Station Hospital,” Brawner said, referring to Sunday’s clashes in Lanao del Norte.

Brawner condoled with the slain soldiers’ families and assured them of support and justice by exhausting all efforts in running after the enemy.

“I will also make sure that our wounded soldiers receive the best treatment possible for their injuries,” Brawner said.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Roy Galido expressed sympathy with the families of the slain soldiers. — John Unson

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