AFP allows that some members of the Maute Group may have left Marawi alongside evacuees; Maute bomber nabbed in CDO.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines reports that some members of the Maute Group may have slipped the borders of Marawi, in nearly a month of fighting. AFP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that some of the Islamist militants may have mingled with evacuees to leave the heat of the clash.
The AFP, however, assures the public that security has been tightened in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, with the authorities on the lookout for suspicious characters who might “attempt to sow some confusion or sow terror.”
Padilla said that talk of fighters planning attacks in neighboring towns was based on “misinformation that’s being spread by the enemies.”
Padilla also stressed that the Maute Group who remain in Marawi are unable to stage massive attacks, and especially not those who may have left the besieged city. “Safe to say, I can tell you, they don’t have the capacity to do what they did in Marawi anymore,” said Padilla. “Their capabilities have been significantly degraded, and they have specifically targeted Marawi to sow terror, wreak havoc, possibly kidnap people, destroy homes, schools, what have you. And that’s exactly what they did. So any kind of action of that extent will not happen in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.”
Padilla said that less than 200 of the terrorists remain in Marawi, and have been offering dwindling resistance to the advancement of government troops—and have been resorting to using civilians as human shields and using mosques as safe havens. The military updated the death toll among the Maute Group at 242 as of 17 July 2017.
This comes at the heels of the Philippine National Police capturing a suspected bomber for the Maute Group in Cagayan de Oro. Mohammad Noaim Maute, alias Abu Jadid, was arrested in Barangay Macasandig at 0700H of 15 June 2017. He is reported to be a relative of Omarkhayam and Abdullah Maute, who led the siege in Marawi City in May.
Region 10 police director Chief Superintendent Agripino Javier described Abu Jadid as a trained bomber, and: “Hindi pa niya inaamin kung ano ang target niya pero we presume that he wants to create destruction in some areas in CDO.” Javier said the suspect got past police checkpoints by using fake IDs, often posing as a student.
After receiving a tip from a concerned citizen, authorities conducted surveillance on the suspect for three days before the arrest was made.