Men in black fire at army post; 3 marawi hostages freed

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ARMED men in black uniforms attacked an army post in the sleepy town of Bayang, Lanao del Sur, just hours after government forces, closing in against the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City, rescued three more hostages.

Bayang Mayor Aslani Pangarungan Balt, in a radio interview Saturday, said around 20 armed men lobbed grenade launchers at an army post adjacent to the townhall, immediately sparking a brief gunfight.

The military validated the incident, saying nearly a dozen armed men were involved in the attack, but described this as a mere harassment, but they were taking stricter security measures.

Citing witnesses accounts, Col. Romeo Brawner, Task Group Ranao deputy commander, said only five to seven armed men figured in the fighting lasting for a minute Wednesday.

“The firefight only lasted for one minute. The troops on the ground were expecting the fighting to last long, but the attackers immediately retreated,” Brawner said.

FRESH OFFENSIVE. Smoke billows from houses following aerial bombings recently by Philippine Air Force planes on Islamist positions in the lakeshore provincial capital of Marawi City, with military authorities claiming troops had captured the command center of Islamic State group supporters who have besieged Marawi since May 23. AFP

Brawner said they were closely coordinating with local leaders in Bayang to possibly establish the armed men’s identities.

Bayang is a fifth class town near Marawi City, bounded by Butig town, an enclave of the Maute brothers and the site of fierce gun battle between security forces and the extremist group.

Shortly after the Bayang attack, Brawner said troops from the 65th Infantry Battalion conducted intensified patrols in nearby areas surrounding Bayang.

Reports said 20 to 30 armed men were spotted during the attack. 

However, another group of some 60 rebels were seen in the outskirts of Bayang.

Two days after the attack, armed men were seen in the same area as Bayang local government officials vowed to challenge the armed men into a fight.

“We are taking this seriously, but based on our initial assessment, it’s just a nuisance group and is not connected to the Marawi terrorist,” Brawner said.

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