Wounded Maute men seek treatment in Sarangani

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FULLY armed men, suspected to be members of the retreating Maute group, barged into a government hospital in Glan, Sarangani province demanding treatment for their seriously wounded comrades and threatened doctors and employees not to report their presence to the authorities or they will be mercilessly killed, a medical staffer said.

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A hospital attendant named Auring told The Manila Times they were advised by the management to be careful about reporting the presence of the wounded men as they might be killed or held hostage by the retreating armed group.

The source said they treated about 10 wounded men. Four of them were taken by the armed men after treated of minor wounds while six others remained in the hospital heavily guarded by their companions.

Glan is a coastal municipality often used as an escape route because of its strategic location.

Ustadz Pendie Colano, chairman of the Selatan Kutawato State Revolutionary Committee (SKSRC), the armed wing of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) confirmed reports about the presence of the Maute group in Sarangani province as the military deployed troops in Glan and asked for his help in monitoring the situation.

However, Colano was unaware of the report about the armed men being treated at the government hospital in Glan, adding they did not discount the possibility because the town is strategic for the withdrawing Maute group.

People in the coastal towns of Maitum, Kiamba and Maasim have also been alarmed by the presence of heavily armed men, as government troopers were deployed in these areas considered as possible refuge of the bandits after the Marawi encounter.

The 1002nd Brigade Command headquarters under Army Col. Tyne Bañas had received reports about the Maute group presence in Sarangani and are now validating the information. Remnants of the men of fallen Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, alias Tokboy, of the Ansar Khalifa Philippines (AKP), are in constant communication with the Maute terror cell group. Tokboy’s men are among those responsible for terrorist attacks in southern Mindanao.

Reports from an AFP intelligence source revealed that Islamic State (IS) recruits were mostly student from various college and institutions in the cities of Marawi and Cotabato and their mentors are full-blooded fundamentalist Islamic priests or Imams who emphasize jihad or holy war.

Meanwhile, Joint Task Force Gensan headed by Army Col. Adonis Bajao said they do not discount the possibilities of spillover of the war between government troops and the extremists. But, even in a worse case scenario, they said they are ready to protect civilians.

Similarly, General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera urged the civilians to cooperate with the police and military authorities for their own safety and security and avoid engaging in nocturnal activities.

The entire Region 12 has been placed under heightened alert status with checkpoints established in strategic entry and exit areas manned by joint police and military forces.

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