• Maute matriarch, 9 others arrested

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    MARAWI CITY: The mother of key leaders of the jihadist Maute or Islamic State (IS)-Ranao group was arrested by authorities on Friday evening in the town of Masiu, Lanao del Sur, a few kilometers away from this battle-ravaged city, officials said.

    FAILED ESCAPE Ominta ‘Farhana’ Romato Maute (left), mother of maute group leaders Omar Romato Maute and Abdullah Romato Maute, is shown with her companions after being arrested by authorities on friday evening in Masiu, Lanao del Sur. inset, soldiers inspect the vehicle used by Farhana and nine others.

    Ominta “Farhana” Romato Maute, mother of Omar Romato Maute and Abdullah Romato Maute, leaders of the Maute group, was attempting to leave the province when intercepted around 7:15 p.m., said Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, regional police director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

    “Farhana was said to be buying vehicles and firearms for their escape outside Lanao del Sur province,” Sindac said.

    He said two unidentified wounded Maute members and seven unidentified female personalities, who were with Farhana aboard a gray Toyota Revo, were also arrested by police in the village of Kormatan in Masiu.

    Authorities seized from the suspects several high-powered firearms and improvised explosives.

    Masiu is among 39 towns of Lanao del Sur’s first district, more or less 30 kilometers away from Marawi City. It is next to Butig, the hometown of the Maute clan that the terrorists briefly took over last year.

    A police report, quoting a reliable source, said Farhana was hiding in Dayawan village together with the two Maute members.

    The arrest of the suspects came as fighting in Marawi reached its 18th day. The military, backed by the policemen, is attempting to contain the Maute men by June 12 or Independence Day.

    “The government is serious in its fight to end the cultists’ terror attack in Marawi and preempt their atrocious plans in the entire nation,” Sindac said.

    The Maute matriarch was expected to be brought to Cagayan de Oro City and then to Manila.

    Farhana’s husband, Cayamora Maute, was earlier arrested in Davao City and then transferred in Taguig City for security reasons. The couple has been charged by the Department of National Defense with rebellion in connection with the Marawi siege.

    Earlier arrested for rebellion were Nasser Dilangalen in Cotabato City and former Marawi mayor Fahad “Pre” Salic in Misamis Oriental and several other suspects, all said to be supporters of the Maute group.

    Intelligence authorities said the Maute matriarch was under surveillance for years for financing the terror group, including purchasing vehicles under her name.

    with DEMPSEY REYES

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