MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur: Military forces here intercepted a vehicle carrying improvised explosive devices (IEDs) believed to be transported to Cagayan de Oro City but the carriers eluded arrest.
Officers of the Marawi City-based Philippine Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade said a white Toyota Innova car with only a conduction sticker (YM 649) was found abandoned by the suspects in Barangay Lilod after eluding soldiers in nearby Barangay Mapandi around 12:10 p.m. on Friday.
The vehicle was put under surveillance after military intelligence units received reports that the car will be used to transport IEDs to Cagayan de Oro City and other areas in Northern Mindanao.
Recovered inside the vehicle were a 105mm howitzer ammo rigged with a cellular phone as triggering device and other explosive materials.
Also found inside the car were Special Action Force (SAF) uniform, several documents espousing the Islamic State (IS) ideology and personal belongings, including a camera.
A military officer said investigators have traced the car as registered to a member of the Maute family in Butig town, where the military has been hunting down members of the group, also known as IS Ranao.
The group, headed by Abdullah Maute, has been blamed for atrocities including bombings and beheading of hostages.
But authorities were still confirming whether the suspects are members of the Maute group that had pledged allegiance to international radical group Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
Sources confirmed that there was “migration” taking place in Butig, where non-Maranaos have joined the group in fighting government forces.
Security forces tightened alert in this city to thwart any attack.
On Wednesday, IS Ranao claimed responsibility for attacks, including one on military bunkers inside the camp here near the provincial government complex, using n M203 grenade launcher.
No casualties were recorded.
An IED was also found in the area but it did not explode.
Local leaders here and the province of Lanao del Sur said they will convene a Peace and Order Council meeting to discuss the renewed hostilities.
The hostilities ensued after senior member of the Khilafah Islamiyah Movement (KIM) Abdul Rahman, who is fighting alongside the IS in Al-Raqqah province in Syria, ordered supporters to wage war on the volatile island Mindanao.
The KIM was previously blamed for bombings in Cagayan de Oro City–July 26, 2013 in Limketkai shopping complex that killed eight people and the October 11, 2012 Maxandrea Hotel blast.
The group was also prime suspect in other bombings in Iligan City, Cotabato City and Bukidnon province.