Military destroys lair of ISIS-inspired terrorists in Maguindanao

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine military on Sunday, February 3, said it destroyed a hideout of Islamic State (ISIS)-inspired terrorists in Maguindanao after launching an operation to take down the site this weekend. 

Joint Task Force Central (JTFC) launched surgical air, artillery, and ground operations at about 6 am on Saturday, February 2, after it identified and confirmed the location of the terrorist-identified lair in Sitio Tatak, Barangay Tugal, in the municipality of Sultan sa Barongis, Maguindanao.

Initial results of the operation showed about 20 capacity bunkers and foxholes of the ISIS-inspired terrorist group were destroyed, the military said in a statement Sunday.

The military said the terrorist group was operating under Salahudin Hassan, who has been the target of military operations for his alleged involvement in several attacks in Central Mindanao.

The operation also resulted from information and support provided by former members of the separatist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who surrendered to the JTFC, they added. Past video releases have shown BIFF leaders pledging allegiance to ISIS. 

JTFC Commander Major General Cirilito Sobejana assured the public that the military had planned safety procedures to ensure civilians were safe during the operation.

He said the military also coordinated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities regarding the operation, which was confined to locations far from local communities.

"I am very determined to defeat these threat groups and prevent them from doing terroristic activities to bring about peace in Central Mindanao," Sobejana said.

The operation is part of the military's effort to weed out extremist groups in Mindanao. It comes a week after ISIS claimed responsibility for twin blasts that hit the Jolo Cathedral in Sulu, killing at least 22. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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