Tag Archive: Lanao del Norte


Authorities in Northern Mindanao have been alerted for a possible “spillover” of clashes between government troops and a local terrorist group in neighboring Lanao del Sur, police said said Saturday.

“The command, which is already on ‘full alert’ status, has intensified its intelligence build-up and checkpoint operations in its boundaries to contain and prevent a spillover,” said Supt. Surki Sereñas, Northern Mindanao regional police spokesman.

Members of the 10th Regional Public Safety Battalion have also been sent to augment provincial and city police units that share geographical boundaries with Lanao del Sur “in case of eventualities,” Sereñas said in a statement.

Lanao del Norte and its capital, Iligan City, share a vast boundary with Lanao del Sur.

Police units there are also “constantly” coordinating with police and military counterparts in the affected areas, Sereñas said.

Clashes in Lanao del Sur’s Butig town erupted last February 20 after about 80 to 100 followers of brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute attacked a military detachment there.

As of Saturday, troops have recovered five bodies of the Mautes’ followers, three M16 rifles, a sniper rifle, and two rocket-propelled grenades, said Colonel Roseller Murillo, commander of the Army’s 103rd Brigade.

Earlier, the military said intelligence reports indicate that at least 42 terror suspects, including Omar Maute, had been killed in the week-long offensive.

Three soldiers also died in the clashes while 11 more were injured.

Security forces have been pounding the hinterlands of Butig since Feb. 20 with OV-10 bomber planes, MG-520 attack helicopters, and Howitzer cannons, prompting more than 20,000 people living nearby to evacuate.

No clash occurred on Saturday, but soldiers are still pursuing the Mautes’ remaining followers, Murillo said.

The Maute brothers’ group has been proclaiming itself as a branch of the Middle East-based Islamic State of Iraq and Syria but authorities dismissed these claims, saying the local gunmen were only joining the ISIS bandwagon.

The group is “allied” to a certain Ustadz Sanusi, an Indonesian conduit of the Jemaah Islamiyah who was killed in a raid in Marawi City in November 2012, Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a recent interview. (John Roson)

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Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) freed five persons, including a former vice-mayor, after “arresting” them in Baloi, Lanao del Norte, the military said Saturday.

Former Baloi Vice Mayor Abdullah Balas, Brgy. Cadayunan chairman Mohammad Amer Arumpac, former Brgy. East Poblacion chairman Salonga Pacuti, and two other civilians were freed 5:30 p.m. Friday, Army 1st Infantry Division spokesman Capt. Jefferson Somera said.

Members of the MILF seized the five past 6 p.m. Thursday during a “saturation drive” in Brgy. Poblacion East, he said.

Fully-armed MILF members led by Commander Abdul Jalal Macalunto of the North Western Mindanao Front forcibly took the five and brought them to their camp in Lanao del Sur, Somera said.

“‘Yung MILF kasi, nagko-conduct ng saturation drive, tinawag nila na anti-drugs saka anti-gambling saturation, ‘yun ang sabi nila,” he said.

Somera, however, said the military believes that the incident was a case of “kidnapping” as the victims’ families were reported to have paid money for their release.

“Nalaman namin na bago na-release, nag-ransom ng P15,000 each, so we believe na simple kidnapping ‘yun,” he said.

Somera said the military is leaving it to the police to determine if the incident will be considered as a kidnapping case. (John Roson)

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Authorities rescued a Korean woman from kidnappers in Iligan City on Sunday night, but she was injured as the suspects engaged the lawmen in a shootout, police said.

Yeung Ting Ting, 45, suffered a bullet wound during the firefight and was brought to the Dr. Uy Hospital for treatment, Supt. Ronnie Francis Cariaga, Northern Mindanao regional police spokesman, said.

According to Cariaga, six armed men took Yeung from the Hong Jek Merchandise store along Quezon ave. around 7 p.m. and forced her into a red Toyota Lite Ace van (GSH-351).

Members of Iligan City Public Safety Company launched an operation to rescue the foreigner and intercepted the abductors’ vehicle along C-3 Road, Brgy. Santa Elena.

A brief firefight ensued, resulting in the wounding of Yeung and one of the suspects, Cariaga said.

The abductors eventually left Yeung and their vehicle, and escaped to a hilly area, he said. (John Roson)

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Kidnappers freed public school teachers Rene Sumagang and Serfino Sanchez of Iligan City in Kapai, Lanao del Sur, on Sunday night but no ransom was paid, a military spokesman said Monday.

Sumagang and Sanchez were turned over by their captors to Tagoloan II Mayor Mizangcad Capal at the old barangay center of Kapai around 7:20 p.m., Army 1st Infantry Division spokesman Capt. Albert Caber said.

“The two were personally handed over by Mangagao Elias alias Ayatullah, leader of the 9-man kidnap-for-ransom group,” Caber said in a text message.

“The kidnappers decided to release their captives after sensing a big number of operating troops in the area,” he said.

Sumagang and Sanchez, both teachers at the Limonsudan Bayug Falls Elementary School, were kidnapped on March 19 in Sitio Kibulag, Brgy. Rogongon, Iligan City.

Elias and his men, alleged extortionists and cattle rustlers, had demanded P4 million in exchange for the teachers’ release. They also threatened to burn down their captives’ school in Brgy. Rogongon if no payment was made.

However, Caber said no ransom was paid as Lanao del Sur Gov. Bombit Adiong Jr., along with military and police officials, “exerted pressure” on the kidnappers.

After their release, Sumagang and Sanchez underwent medical checks and debriefing before being turned over to Iligan City Mayor lawrence Cruz and their families. (John Roson)

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Suspected Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members staged three attacks in Basilan, Lanao del Norte, and Zamboanga Sibugay on Saturday and Sunday, leaving at least eight people killed and 11 others injured, but the rebel group denied having any hand on the incidents.

Rubber tappers strafed

Around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, rubber tappers of the Tumahubong Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Inc. Dev’t. Cooperative (TARBIDC) and some militiamen were ambushed at Sitio Along-Along between Brgys. Upper and Sapah Bulak in Sumisip, Basilan, Army chief Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz said.

Civilians Renato Aligay, Junrel Langugon, Delord Johnson, Buenaventura Lugamay, and Fernando Tantalo, an “off-duty” Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA) member, got killed in the attack, Ortiz said in a text message.

Eight others, identified as Alfredo Rojas, Danilo Tonghay, Adzar Madjakin, Abdul Mot, Julibert Dingkong, Francisco Taklindo, and CAA members Gilbert Guevara and Bonifacio Dagodog Jr., were injured, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said in a separate message.

Army spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc, said the Army headquarters has received information that the fatalities may have risen to six.

The attack was allegedly carried out by some 40 MILF members led by Hassan Asnawi, Ortiz and Cabangbang said.

“Nakasakay sila (rubber tappers and militiamen) sa isang TARBIDC-owned truck nang pagbabarilin nitong mga armado ‘yung sasakyan, that is clearly not a military target,” Cabunoc said.

2 soldiers killed in Lanao ambush

Meanwhile, Ortiz said two soldiers got killed while three others, including an Army captain, were injured when their convoy was ambushed by “suspected MILF” members in Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte, around 11 a.m.

Cabunoc said the Army headquarters has yet to recieve the names of the fatalities, but those injured included a certain Capt. Barns who is in “critical condition.”

The convoy of 5th Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Bagnus Gaerlan was fired upon by about five armed men while it was passing through Brgy. Payong.

Those killed and injured were on a KM450 military truck while Gaerlan, who was unharmed, was on a civilian vehicle, Cabunoc said.

“Colonel Gaerlan was on his way to facilitate the surrender of two MILF members. It is still unknown who did the ambush, but MILF forces are frequently seen in that area,” Cabunoc said.

Armed men seize 2 schools

On Saturday, around 120 “alleged lawless elements” of the MILF stormed a village in Talusan, Zamboanga Sibugay, and occupied two schools there after clashing with militiamen, police said.

Director Felicisimo Khu, head of the PNP Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Western Mindanao, said the lawless elements encountered Civilian Volunteer Organization members (CVO) in Brgy. Samonte around 2:30 p.m.

The armed men occupied the elementary school in the barangay while the CVO members withdrew towards Brgy. Cawilan after seeing they were outnumbered, Khu said in a text message late Saturday.

Chief Supt. Elpidio de Asis, Zamboanga Peninsula regional police director, said policemen were sent to the area around 5 p.m. to check on the presence of “alleged MILF lawless elements led by a certain commander Said.”

The group occupied and destroyed parts of the elementary school, took two large cattle, and other properties of residents there, De Asis said in a text message Sunday, citing field reports.

The armed men later moved towards the boundary of Brgys. Moalboal and Matim and were last monitored in an abandoned elementary school in Brgy. Bolingan, he said.

MILF denies attacks

Von Al-Haq, the MILF’s spokesman for military affairs, said in a phone interview that the rebel group did not stage the ambushes in Basilan and Lanao del Norte, as well as the occupation of schools in Zamboanga Sibugay.

“Hindi mga MILF ‘yun sa Basilan na pumatay sa plantation workers at sa Sibugay sapagkat kahapon may kautusan na, na hindi magsasagawa ng
atake at ambush,” Al-Haq told reporters.

The order was issued by the chief of staff of the MILF Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces on Saturday morning, he said.

Pursuit launched

A company of Scout Rangers, or about 100 soldiers, have been sent to pursue the ambushers in Basilan while Col. Ricardo Visaya, commander of the 104th Brigade, sent a platoon to chase the attackers in Lanao del Norte, Cabunoc said.

“A pursuit was launched because according to the GRP-MILF ceasefire agreement, there is no ‘area of temporary stay’ of the MILF in those places. We call these ambushers bandits,” Cabunoc said.

“Walang ‘area of temporary stay’ ang MILF doon (sa Sultan Naga Dimaporo), ang pinakamalapit na ATS ay nasa Butig, Lanao del Sur… Kung mapapatunayan na MILF itong mga nang-ambush, this is a clear ceasefire violation,” Cabunoc said.

Meanwhile, members of the Army’s 10th Infantry Battalion are now in Talusan to help policemen pursue the armed men. “Wala ring ‘area of temporary stay’ ang MILF sa lugar na yan,” Cabunoc said.

The attacks occurred just two days after members of the MILF staged ambuscades that killed five soldiers and three policemen, including two officers, in Zamboanga Sibugay mainland’s Alicia and Kabasalan towns.

The MILF owned up to those earlier attacks, saying these were in retaliation for the military and police operations against its 113rd Base Command in Payao town.

Military and police officials said the “law enforcement operations” were not aimed at the MILF, but against Waning Abdusalam, the alleged leader of a kidnap-for-ransom group.

On October 18, a total of 19 soldiers, including four Army lieutenants, died in a clash with members of the MILF’s 114th Base Command in Al Barka, Basilan. The rebel group said the soldiers “encroached” its territory and attacked its forces, a claim which the military strongly denied. (John Roson)

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see update: 8 dead, 11 hurt in fresh attacks; MILF denies involvement

Three soldiers got killed while three others, including an Army captain, were injured when thier convoy was ambushed by still unidentified armed men in Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte, Sunday morning, the military said.

Army spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc said they have yet to recieve the names of the fatalities, but those injured included a certain Capt. Barnes who is in critical condition.

The incident occurred around 11 a.m. while the convoy of 5th Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Bagnus Gaerlan was passing through Brgy Payong.

Those killed and injured were riding a KM450 military truck while Gaerlan, who was riding a civilian vehicle, is unharmed, Cabunoc said in a phone interview, citing field reports reaching the Army headquarters.

“Colonel Gaerlan was on his way to facilitate the surrender of two MILF members. It is still unknown who did the ambush, but MILF forces are frequently seen in that area,” Cabunoc said.

Colonel Ricardo Visaya, commander of the 104th Brigade, sent reinforcements to pursue the attackers.

“Walang ‘area of temporary stay’ ang MILF doon, ang pinakamalapit na ATS ay nasa Butig, Lanao del Sur… Kung mapapatunayan na MILF itong mga nang-ambush, this is a clear ceasefire violation,” Cabunoc said. (John Roson)

see update: 8 dead, 11 hurt in fresh attacks; MILF denies involvement

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