By Francis T. Wakefield
The attempt to reinforce Maute Group fighters still holed up in war-torn Marawi City was foiled early Monday morning when alert troops killed 10 terrorists following a three-hour clash in Lanao Lake, Lanao del Sur.
The 10 suspected terrorists were trying to sneak into the main battle area in Marawi City when soldiers from a task group monitoring Lake Lanao chanced upon them aboard two motorized pump boats at about 2:30 a.m. Monday. A fierce gunfight ensued.
Troops scour the lake for Maute terrorists. (Photo courtesy of GMA Network/Manila Bulletin)
As the terrorists got nearer to the lakeshore, another task force joined the firefight until the Maute reinforcements were killed. No casualty was reported on the government side.
At the height of the clash, troops saw one of the terrorists’ pump boats sinking.
At about 5 a.m., troops searching the scene of the fight found five bodies of the suspected terrorists plus an M16 rifle and a motorized pump boat. However, the bodies of the five other Maute reinforcements as well as the sunken pump boat remain unaccounted for.
As of press time, patrolling soldiers and policemen are still looking for the dead bodies and the sunken boat.
“The recent accomplishment of our ground forces only shows the successful coordination made by our troops and the local government units,” said Lt. Gen. Carlito G. Galvez Jr., commander of the AFP Western Mindanao Command. “The plan of the terrorists was earlier reported to us that is why it was easier for patrolling special forces, riverine units, and maritime policemen to detect and neutralize the movement.”
“Let this be a warning to those who have the intention to escape and enter (the battle area). Our troops are ready for you. We will definitely get you,” Galvez added.
Maute patriarch dies
The killing of the 10 reinforcements came a day after the death of Cayamora Maute – father of Omar and Abdullah Maute who led the terror attacks in Marawi City – was reported.
Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) director Serafin Barreto Jr. said the 67-year-old Maute patriarch was taken to Taguig-Pateros District Hospital at around 2 p.m. Sunday but died at 3:07 p.m.
“Yes, we received a report that he died this afternoon, at 3:07 p.m. Jail officials said his BP (blood pressure) spiked and he had difficulty in breathing),” Baretto said when asked to confirm the death.
However, Baretto said the Maute patriarch’s cause of death has yet to be determined. He was a detainee at the Special Intensive Care Area (SICA) 1 facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
Baretto disclosed that jail warden Chief Inspector Lloyd Gonzaga had earlier requested medical checkups for Maute outside of the detention facility the past few months but he got no approval from the judges holding his case.
“Matagal na ngang nagre-request ‘yung jail warden ng checkup para sa kanya, siguro as early as July, dahil nagco-complain nga, nahihirapan daw huminga at masakit ang dibdib kaso hindi nga naaprubahan ng mga judges (The jail warden has long requested for medical checkups for him, I think as early as July, since he was complaining that he has been having difficulty in breathing and chest pains but it was not approved by the judges),” Baretto added.
The Maute patriarch was arrested at a checkpoint in Davao City last June 6 and was later transferred to the Metro Manila jail facility of the BJMP in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City, following reports of an attempt to rescue him.
He was later indicted for violation of Sec. 28 E (1) in relation to Sec. (a) of Republic Act 10591 (Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act) and violation for Sec. 3 of Presidential Decree 1866 as mended by Republic Act 9516 (Law on Explosives).
Even before his detention, the BJMP chief, said the Maute patriarch was already diagnosed with hepatitis, type 1 diabetes, and hypertension.
BJMP spokesperson Senior Inspector Xavier Solda said the elder Maute was “in critical condition” when he was taken from the Special Intensive Care Unit at Camp Bagong Diwa to Taguig-Pateros District Hospital at around 3 p.m.. He later died.
Maute’s relatives have already received his body and will take it to Quiapo.
“Dadalhin siya ng mga kamag-anak niya ‘dun sa Quiapo, but we don’t have the specific location yet,” Solda said, noting that according to Islamic tradition, the funeral must be held as soon as possible.
“It’s up to them to decide kung ano ang next nila na gagawin, especially kung paano ilibing ng kanilang pamilya,” he said.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año on Monday said the death of the father of the Maute brothers was an unfortunate incident not only for his family, but especially the victims of terrorism in the war-torn city.
“This is an unfortunate incident for his family; but more so for the victims of terrorism in Marawi and their relatives who are awaiting justice and expecting that Mr. Cayamora would answer/atone for his involvement in the Marawi rebellion,” he added.
Meanwhile, as of 7 p.m. Sunday or Day 98 since the Marawi siege started, a total of 603 Maute fighters have been killed by government forces, with 665 firearms taken from the terrorist.
AFP Western Mindanao Command and Joint Task Force Marawi spokes Army Captain Jo-Ann D. Petinglay said the total number of government forces killed remained at 130.
She said there is no change in the number of civilians killed which remains at 45 and number of civilians rescued at 1,728.
She added that about 1,270 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and unexploded ordnance (UXOs) were taken from the different structures in the main battle area.
“Yesterday alone, 32 IEDs and UXOs were seized by troops,” she said. (With a report from Martin A. Sadongdong)
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