Matinding bakbakan: Lanao Sur hostilities force villagers to flee

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Several Meranao villagers were forced to flee their homes in the wake of gunfights between the Maute terrorist group and pursuing government troops over the weekend.

At least two suspected Maute militants were killed in the gunfights in Tubaran town in Lanao del Sur province last Sunday afternoon.

The office of Lanao del Sur Gov. Soraya Adiong-Alonto dispatched relief workers to help the Tubaran local government unit attend to families forced to relocate away from the encounter scene (http://www.ndbcnews.com.ph/news/meranao-villagers-displaced-in-latest-lanao-sur-hostilities).

Emergency workers from the provincial government are now coordinating with the provincial police and the 103rd Brigade to draw up an evacuation plan.

More than 1,000 Meranao families had been affected by the conflict, and are now in makeshift evacuation sites in safer areas.

Reports reaching the governor’s office showed the tension stemmed from automatic bursts of gunfire and explosions in Barangays Wago, Guiarong Tubaran, Malaganding, Tubaran Proper, Madaya, Gaput, Dinaigan and Alog.

Provincial government spokesperson Salma Jayne Tamano said they are now validating reports that dozens of families are still trapped in Barangays Padas and Diampaca.

Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, commander of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said their units will help in relief operations for the evacuees.

Dela Vega thanked vigilant villagers who reported having seen Abu Dar and his men converging in an upland area in Tubaran.

Meanwhile, the local government unit of Binidayan town has accommodated 3,571 villagers from Tubaran, who are now in temporary relief facilities.

Dela Vega said the Lanao del Sur provincial police and units of the 103rd Brigade are cooperating in addressing the security constraints now besetting Tubaran town.

He said evacuees shall also be secured by soldiers from possible harassment by militants who may try to retaliate for their losses in the Tubaran skirmishes.

The Maute terror group had engaged government troops from May to October 2017 in Marawi City.

It is notorious for abducting villagers and using them as human shields to prevent pursuing soldiers from getting close.