Saturday, November 26, 2016

Army troops engage Maute Group in second Butig clash this year

From InterAksyon (Nov 27): Army troops engage Maute Group in second Butig clash this year


Butig, site of a second clash, so gar, in 2016 between security forces and the Maute terrorist group.

 Reports reaching Manila indicated that government troops on Saturday cornered elements of the Islamist Maute terrorist group in their second clash this year at the town of Butig, Lanao del Sur.

Once described by the military as a small-time extortion gang, the group had launched an attack on a remote army outpost in Butig in February, triggering a week of fighting that the military said left six soldiers and 12 militants dead.

This time the militants were cornered by security forces at an abandoned building, according to Major Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City, with no death, so far, reported since sporadic firefights broke out between soldiers and the Maute fighters, who were believed to number as many as 100.

The Maute Group was been tagged as behind the deadly bombing at Davao City's Night Market business enclave.

Residents of Butig, which has a population of 17,000, fled after the Islamic State-linked militants holed themselves up in an abandoned government building, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla told Agence France-Presse.

"The Armed Forces of the Philippines has launched an operation to chase after the Maute leaders," Padilla said, adding that artillery and military aircraft were aiding ground-based security forces.

The Maute Group is one of several armed Islamist organizations in Mindanao, which have pledged allegiance to Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria.

The stand-off in Butig follows the arrest of three members of the group last month, accused of the September bombing that left 15 people dead in Davao, President Rodrigo Duterte's hometown and Mindanao's largest city.

Government forces have surrounded the Maute gunmen to block a possible spillover of the fighting to other areas.

Security forces captured a Maute training camp in the town in June after a 10-day gun battle that left four soldiers and dozens of militants dead, according to an army account.

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