MANILA - Some 11,000 individuals have fled from their homes as the military and Islamic State-linked Maute gunmen clashed for the fourth day in the mountainous parts of Lanao Del Sur province, disaster officials said Wednesday.
The firefight erupted Sunday when government troops attacked an extremist lair in Tubayawan town, after monitoring the presence of the reported new emir of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia, Abu Dar.
Some 2,234 families or 11,170 individual have sought safer ground in 7 towns across the province, the figure doubling overnight, said the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC).
Among the evacuees were 387 families in Tubaran, 573 in Binidayan, 355 in Pagayawan, 350 in Bayang, 22 in Marogong, 21 in Ganassi, and 9 in Calanogas.
Five suspected extremists have been killed in the firefight and 4 of them have been identified. The military, however, has yet to recover the remains of the fatalities, said Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Joint Task Group Ranao.
The military on Wednesday said it has captured the campsite of Abu Dar's men in Tubaran.
Authorities have tagged Abu Dar as one of the leaders of a 5-month long siege by the ISIS-inspired Maute group in Marawi City last year. The fighting left much of the city in ruins and led to the declaration of martial law in the entire Mindanao.
Dar and 40 followers escaped from Marawi during the early days of the fighting, said Brawner.
Report from Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News