By Priam Nepomuceno

Piagapo, Lanao del Sur (Wikimap)

MANILA – The Philippine Army (PA) reported Saturday the death of nine members of the Dawlah Islamiya (DI) terrorist group after a series of encounters in Piagapo, Lanao del Sur in the past two days.

In a statement, PA spokesperson Lt. Col. Louie Dema-ala said the nine belonged to the group involved in the Mindanao State University – Marawi bombing on Dec. 3, 2023. Four were killed during the explosion at the gymnasium while a Catholic Mass was ongoing.

“The Army troops were able to neutralize nine local terrorist members and recovered eight high-powered firearms,” Dema-ala said.

The clashes between the heavily armed DI terrorists and troops from the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion took place in Barangay Taporug on Thursday and Friday, triggered by internal security operations.

Four soldiers were hurt in the encounters and were transported to the Amai Pakpak Medical Center, also in Marawi.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the four soldiers who sustained injuries during the said operation,” Dema-ala said.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. lauded the Army troops for their successful operation, citing their “precision and unwavering dedication” that delivered justice for MSU victims, including the more than 50 who were wounded.

“This operation sets a clear precedent: The AFP 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 in a statement.

He also called on those considering violence to rethink their choices as AFP remains an “indomitable force” in ensuring the safety of Filipinos. (PNA)