Camp Sang-An, Zamboanga del Sur – The operating troops of the 51st Infantry Battalion (51IB) had a running gun battle with more or less 30 Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute Group (DI-MG) members in the mountains of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte on August 21.
The clash, which lasted for three hours, resulted in the enemy’s withdrawal and the recovery of seven IED (Main Charge), five backpacks, a 15-meter commercial wire, and subversive materials of high intelligence value.
There was no recorded casualty on the government side while the DI-MG suffered undetermined casualties based on the bloodstains in the area and the reports from local residents. Immediately after the encounter, the engaged troops conducted pursuit operations.
Also, artillery units and the Philippine Air Force provided fire and air support to the operating troops on the ground.
51IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Fernando L. Payapaya said that the battalion is seriously determined to end the existing terrorism in their area of operations.
“We will never stop or even delay pursuing them. The only option they have is to surrender; otherwise, they will be slayed and destroyed in our series of military operations,” Payapaya added.
According to Brig. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo, the 103rd Infantry Brigade and JTG HARRIBON commander, the 51IB troops engaged 30 terrorists of the same group earlier that week, August 15, led by a certain @Abu Bakar/Abu Zacaria.
“We have received reports from the residents on the presence of the armed group, and the military units operating within the area responded quickly to the reports,” said Cuerpo.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Gene M. Ponio, the 1ID and JTF ZAMPELAN commander, urged the local populace to continue to report any threats and illegal activities that disrupt peace and prosperity in their community to the security forces.
“We ensure the public that we will respond to their call 24/7 to secure and protect them from any threats and to sustain the peace and progress in our area or responsibility,” Ponio added.
As of writing, almost 450 families from the municipality of Tangcal and Munai were affected and some of them were forced to leave their homes. Soldiers from the 11th Division Reconnaissance Company and 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion are scouring the forested area between Munai and Tangcal.
Evacuees from the two affected municipalities are now advised to return to their homes.
(Source: DPAO TABAK, photos courtesy of Team Tabak)