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Maranaos leave interior town for fear of terror attacks 

Local News • 16:30 PM Sun May 28, 2023
John M. Unson

COTABATO CITY - Thousands of villagers in Marogong, Lanao del Sur have fled after the Dawlah Islamiya on Friday warned of an attack if authorities ignore its demand to set free many of its members arrested and detained for heinous offenses.

In a statement Sunday, Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong, Jr. confirmed the hasty evacuation of hundreds of Maranao families in Marogong to nearby towns, apprehensive of incursions by the Dawlah Islamiya that has members who originally belonged to the Maute terror group that instigated the deadly May 23 to October 16, 2017 siege of Marawi City.

Adiong said their Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office and the local government unit of Marogong are together trying to reach out to villagers who have fled to Lanao del Sur’s Binidayan, Tubaran, Bayang, Masiu, Malabang, Balabagan, Calanogas, Bacolod-Kalawi and Lumbatan towns.

A number of families from Marogong have relocated to Marawi City where they have relatives who can temporarily provide them shelter and food.

“The provincial government, the police and the military are in control. We don’t want displacement of our constituents in Marogong just like that. Our security authorities are on top of the situation,” Adiong said.

Senior officials of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and units under the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade in Marawi City told reporters Sunday the Dawlah Islamiya’s threat to attack the town center of Marogong is a ploy to create an impression that it has not been weakened by the surrender of more than a hundred members from Lanao del Sur towns in the past 18 months.

Police and Army units in the province had arrested in one joint anti-crime operation after another 32 Dawlah Islamiya members and supporters since 2022, among them shabu peddlers who fell in entrapment operations during the period.

Soldiers had also killed 16 Dawlah Islamiya members in clashes in different towns in Lanao del Sur from June 2022 to March this year.

The warnings by the Dawlah Islamiya to intrude into Marogong first scattered Friday via text messages and fictitious Facebook accounts.

It was preceded by last week’s attempt by the group to bomb, using improvised explosive devices, a bus terminal in Cotabato City.

The PRO-12 and the 6th ID had said the foiled bombing plot of the Dawlah Islamiya was meant to make the public believe it can still pull off terror attacks despite its losses in recent encounters with the military.

Records from the Bangsamoro and Region 12 police offices and the Army’s 6th Infantry Division indicate that 325 members of the allies Dawlah Islamiya, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Al-Khobar from across central Mindanao have surrendered to police and military units in the region since January 2022.

The Dawlah Islamiya is known for fomenting hatred for non-Muslims and for bombing buses and commercial establishments if owners refuse to shell out “protection money” on a monthly basis.

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