MANILA (UPDATED) —Government troops on Tuesday morning launched an air strike against members of the Islamic State-inspired Daulah Islamiyah in Lanao del Sur, the military said.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala confirmed that troops from the 103rd Brigade, in coordination with the Philippine National Police, conducted law enforcement operations against the Daulah Islamiyah group in the hinterlands of Maguing town.
“Troops of the 103rd Brigade under BGen Jose Marie Cuerpo II conducted law enforcement operations together with the PNP against focal terrorists led by Abu Zacaria at the hinterlands of the municipality of Maguing, Lanao del Sur early this morning, March 1, 2022,” Zagala said in a statement.
“Upon reaching the near target, close air support was given to protect troops from enemy anti-personnel mines. Troops are still in the area still engaged with the terrorists,” he added.
Maj. Andrew Linao, spokesperson of the AFP Western Mindanao Command, said the air strike targeting members of the terrorist group happened in Barangay Ilaglag around 2 a.m.
Military planes dropped 12 bombs in the area. He noted that the bombed areas are far from populated communities.
“Pursuit operation na siya, habulan na ito. From combat operation, purely combat operation, naging pursuit operation na,” Linao said in a media interview.
“All in all, nasa 12 'yung bomb runs na na-execute, so ngayon, habulan na ito. Siyempre nagtakbuhan na 'yung kalaban, then ang panawagan lang natin sa communities is maging mahinahon lang, stay put lang doon sa communities nila kasi malayo naman ito sa communities. Baka nag-aalala ang counterparts natin, especially civilian communities,” he added.
According to Linao, there are no casualties from the side of civilians.
In a separate statement, 1st Infantry Division spokesperson Capt. Mary Jepte Manebog said the military is targeting some 40 Daulah Islamiyah-Maute Group members under one Abu Zacaria.
Soldiers from the 5th Infantry Battalion, 51st Infantry Battalion and 55th Infantry Battalion were involved in the operations, she added.
Two suspected terrorists were killed while 2 high-powered firearms were recovered. On the government’s side, one soldier was killed while another was injured, the official noted.
Zagala assured citizens who were alarmed by the air strike that the operation was necessary to combat terrorism.
“We assure concerned citizens who were alarmed by the close air support early this morning that the operation is necessary to keep Lanao del Sur and the region safe and free from the threat of terrorism,” he said.
Linao likewise said the military will not stop its operations until it has ensured the safety of the affected communities.
"We have a highly motivated and commited forces currently deployed to completely elimintae the Daulah Islamiyah and secure the communities in Lanao del Sur," he said.
"Your AFP through the WestMinCom will not stop its military operations until the lawless elements are completely crushed. We will earnestly address the challenges currently posed by the Daulah Islamiyah that hinders economic development and prosperity," Linao added, asking the citizens to remain calm.