From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 26): Jihadists occupy Lanao town, raises ISIS flag
Filipino jihadists have occupied a town in southern Philippines and raised the ISIS flag as security forces scrambled to retake the area from some 200 gunmen who pledged loyalty to the Islamic State.
The raid on the town of Butig by jihadists led by Abdullah Maute triggered a an exodus of civilians, who feared a massive military assault against the armed group tagged by authorities as behind the series of deadly attacks, including the September 2 bombing of a night market in Davao City that left 15 people dead and dozens more injured.
Army troops were sent to the area to liberate it from jihadists and that fighting had erupted in several villages in the town, but there had been no immediate reports of casualties from both sides. Gunmen also hostage the town hall, a school as troops fired canons in the surrounding area where jihadists have taken positions.
Roads leading to the town hall had been littered with improvised explosives and making it difficult for government soldiers to launch a ground assault. The military’s Western Mindanao Command under General Mayoralgo dela Cruz did not issue any statement on the daring raid in the town.
In October, authorities arrested in Cotabato City four suspects in the deadly bombing in Davao City and tagged the suspects as members of the Maute group. Security forces also raided a house Cotabato City and seized weapons, ammunition and mortars, including homemade explosives and cell phones and blasting caps, and propaganda videos.
Among those arrested were Teng Macabalang and his son TJ Macabalang and two other men who are believed to be followers of Maute operating in Lanao del Sur, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.
And recently, four other men linked to the night market bombing were also arrested in Cotabato City and accused as being members of the Maute group.