ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Philippine military tightened its security in the restive Muslim province of Lanao del Sur following a clash with militants that left six soldiers wounded in Masiu town.
The weekend fighting erupted after soldiers intercepted a group of gunmen that the military said were members of the Maute group that laid siege to Marawi City in May 2017.
The clash, which erupted at the Kalilangan village near Marawi, lasted nearly an hour. There were no reports of enemy casualties, but the military said soldiers recovered ammunition and a fragmentation grenade, including an IS flag left by the militants.
It was unclear how the military managed to identify the gunmen as Maute fighters, although other militant groups such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and rouge members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were also actively operating in Lanao del Sur.
Armed civilians who are sympathizers of these militant groups and ISIS are also present in the province. Maute fighters occupied Marawi in an effort to put up an Islamic caliphate in the province, but were eventually defeated by security forces in a battle that lasted five months and left the city in ruins. AL JACINTO