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Soldiers recover machine gun but missed Dawlah Islamiya leader

Mindanao Armed Conflict • 09:15 AM Thu May 4, 2023
Edwin O. Fernandez
The M-60 machine gun seized by government troops in Lanao Sur. (Army photo)

Military forces in Lanao del Sur on Tuesday briefly clashed with Moro extremists in Lanao del Sur and recovered a machine gun, the military said today.

But the object of military action managed to elude arrest while fighting was raging on Tuesday afternoon.

Elements of 51st Infantry Battalion missed Dawlah Islamiya-Lanao leader Abu Zacariah, the alleged highest leader of IS linked Moro extremists in Mindanao.

Soldiers were checking on intelligence reports that Zacaria, the alleged emir of IS in the Philippines, was on board a white Mitsubishi adventure.

The operating units, responding to intelligence reports, sighted the vehicle in Barangay Gadongan, Pualas, Lanao del Sur.

As the soldiers were checking who’s inside the vehicle, about 10 armed men opened fire, triggering a brief firefight.  Outnumbered, the extremists escaped and mingled with the local residents.

“No one was hurt on the government side while the casualties on the enemy side are yet to be determined,” a report from 51st IB said.     

Soldiers recovered from the clash site one M-60 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) with 140 rounds of ammunition.

In a statement, Maj. Gen. Antonio Nafarrete, Commander of Joint Task Force (JTF-ZamPeLan), troops are still in pursuit of the fleeing terror group members to prevent them from creating havoc in the peaceful communities.

Lt. Gen. Roy Galido, Western Mindanao command chief, has lauded the JTF ZamPeLan operatives and directed them to intensify manhunt against violent extremists in Lanao del Sur.

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