MANILA, May 23 —- Government security forces are continuing their operations in Marawi City in Lanao Del Sur determined to finish Abu Sayyaf leader and alleged ISIS representative Isnilon Hapilon and his cohorts.
This was disclosed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla in a statement Tuesday evening.
“Our operation is still ongoing in Marawi City and sporadic firefight is still continuing. We can not provide specifics at this point,” he said.
Padilla stressed that the joint military and police units conducting operations against the bandit chief are determined to finish him off along with his armed companions.
“We are also acting on reports of armed men occupying the hospital and some other buildings. This operation initiated earlier today by the AFP and PNP (Philippine National Police) was based on reliable information from many concerned citizens tired of terrorism and its effects,” the AFP spokesperson said.
The clash took place in Barangay Basak around 2:00 p.m. Initially, five security troops were reported wounded in the initial clash with Hapilon’s group which was estimated at around 15 armed men.
Padilla said there is more than sufficient troops and law enforcers on the ground as well as all the appropriate equipment to support these security forces.
“We strongly urge the residents in these areas to remain calm and stay in their homes or evacuate to safer areas if they still can. We also appeal to all our citizens to continue to provide information on enemy location and their movements so we can swiftly conclude this important security operation. Our citizens have the opportunity to contribute and are encouraged to perform their patriotic duty to ensure the safety of their community,” Padilla stressed.
Hapilon was reported severely wounded in the series of military operations in Lanao Del Sur early this January.
He is reportedly the representative of the ISIS terror group in the Philippines.
In an interview over CNN, AFP chief Eduardo Ano said a soldier was killed and 8 others wounded in the ongoing operation as the Maute terrorist group tried to help Hapilon. (PNA)