Maute sympathizers try to overrun Marantao town hall

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 22 2017 04:55 PM

MARAWI CITY- Members and sympathizers of the Islamic State-linked Maute group tried to take over a government facility in nearby Marantao town Tuesday, military officials said.

An undetermined number of armed men fired at a military checkpoint at the gate of the Marantao municipal hall around 5:20 a.m., said Col. Romeo Brawner, Deputy Commander of Task Group Ranao.

Residents said they saw about 40 terrorists attacking the municipal hall, but authorities have yet to verify the figure.

The firefight, which happened near the Mindanao State University (MSU), ended around 7 a.m., with one terrorist killed and several injured, said Muhammad Abinal, Chief of Staff at the Marantao Mayor's Office.

Brawner said terrorists have been trying to derail the opening of classes at the Mindanao State University. 

"We believe the objective is to disrupt activities. Alam nila bubuksan natin ang school sa MSU," Brawner said. 

Despite threats to security, classes opened at the university Tuesday. 

"No amount of harassment and firefight will hostage our right to education," said Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson of the Provincial Crisis Management Committee. 

Some residents fled amid the gun battle to take their families to safer ground. 

The crisis committee assured the public that the government is securing surroundings of Lanao del Sur while flushing out remaining extremists in the heart of the Islamic city. 

"We do not underestimate their capability, we need to be one step ahead of them in securing the people of the province" Adiong said. 

Last week, an army detachment in Lumabatan was attacked a day after at least 20 armed men were seen in the town of Saguiaran walking towards the direction of Piagapo and Marantao. 

On Monday night, another encounter between terrorists and government troops happened on the Lanao Lake in Marawi City. 

The ongoing war, which has dragged on for 92 days, has left at least 583 extremists dead and more than 200,000 residents displaced.

Brawner said around 40 terrorists are left fighting in the conflict zone.

"'Yung less intense fighting indicates na nauubusan na ng bala, kumokonti na ang fighters ng terrorists group," Brawner said.