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Philippine troops kill 9 suspected Muslim militants, including 2 involved in Sunday Mass bombing - 201 Views

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Philippine troops kill 9 suspected Muslim militants, including 2 involved in Sunday Mass bombing

The Philippine army has reported that its troops successfully eliminated nine suspected Muslim militants in the volatile southern region. Among them were two key suspects believed to be involved in a bomb attack last month, which tragically resulted in the deaths of four Christian worshippers.

On Saturday, the Philippine military announced the successful operation in the volatile southern region where nine suspected Muslim militants were killed, including two key suspects involved in a bomb attack last month that resulted in the deaths of four Christian worshippers.

The army revealed that four army scout rangers sustained slight injuries during Thursday’s operation against Dawlah Islamiyah, a small group aligned with the Islamic State, in the hinterland village of Taporug near Piagapo town in Lanao del Sur province, according to Col. Louie Dema-ala, an army spokesman.

Engaging approximately 15 militants in a series of shootouts from Thursday to Friday, army forces acted on information provided by villagers. Dema-ala mentioned that the surviving militants managed to escape, and pursuit operations were underway.

Maj. Gen. Gabriel Viray III, an army infantry division commander, detailed that the militants retreated amid intense gunfire exchanges until they were cornered in a rural house. There, they attempted to resist before being subdued.

In a statement, the army called on the community to remain vigilant and collaborate with military and government authorities in the collective effort to eliminate the threat posed by local terrorist groups.

Eight of the nine bodies had been identified, including those of Saumay Saiden and Abdul Hadi, who were among the suspects in the Dec. 3 bombing that killed four Christian worshippers and wounded dozens of others during Sunday Mass in a state-run university gymnasium in southern Marawi city, he added.

Hadi allegedly assembled the bomb, which police investigators said consisted of a 60 mm mortar round and a rifle grenade, Dema-ala told reporters.

A post-battle video, which a government intelligence official showed The Associated Press, conveyed nine bodies lying side by side near a huddle of rural huts surrounded by banana trees as army officers examined each.

Military chief of staff, Gen. Romeo Brawner, said “this operation sets a clear precedent: the Armed Forces of the Philippines will not tolerate those who endanger the lives and well-being of our people.”

“The remaining few will face our full force and unshakeable resolve in bringing every single responsible individual to account,” Brawner said.

The southern Philippine region of Mindanao is the homeland of minority Muslims and has been the scene of decades-old separatist rebellions.

The Marawi city bombing in December was the bloodiest insurgency-related violence so far under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. He blamed “foreign terrorists” for the attack, which set off a security alarm, including in the capital, Manila. Government forces were put on high alert at the time, as the largely Roman Catholic country welcomed the busy Christmas season that marks a festive period of travel, shopping sprees and traffic jams.

The largest armed insurgent group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, signed a 2014 peace deal with the government, considerably easing decades of fighting. But smaller armed groups like the Dawlah Islamiyah rejected the peace pact and have struggled to press on with bombings and other attacks while evading government offensives.

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