By Francis Wakefield
The commander of the Army’s 103rd Brigade said the body said to be the remains of local terrorist leader Benito Marohombsar or “Abu Dar” is currently undergoing DNA testing to confirm or validate its identity.
Colonel Romeo Brawner said the DNA testing is being done to “erase all doubts” that the body is not that of Dar who is the only remaining “significant figure” in the Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute.
The military earlier expressed belief that one of the four Dawla Islamiya – Lanao terrorists killed in the Lanao del Sur encounter on Thursday is that of Dar.
“Belief muna namin, belief, kasi hindi namin pwedeng sabihin na 100 percent sure eh… kaya kwan lang naniniwala kami na patay na siya [There is belief because we really can’t say that we are 100 percent sure… We just believe that he is dead],” Brawner said.
Brawner explained that there are indications that the body receovered is that of Dar.
He said the body recovered has a scare similar to Dar. Plus there are circumstantial evidences like the gun retrieved from the body, a Croatian made caliber .45 on which he is the only one who has it, a tablet, cellphones and cash.
Brawner also said that the body was positively identified by credible informants as that of Dar.
But just to make sure, Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) took a nail sample from the body which will then be compared to the DNA of his family or relatives.
“The DNA testing of the cadaver believed to belong to Dawla Islamiya Lanao leader Abu Dar is still going on as of this moment. In the meantime, we are continuing our military operations to go after the remnants of this terrorist group,” Brawner said.
Dar, it was recalled, emerged as the new Dawlah Islamiyah-Lanao group commander after the Marawi siege and neutralization of Maute Brothers and Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.
Brawner earlier said that four soldiers died following an encounter between government soldiers and the terrorists in Lanao del Sur on Thursday, March 14, 2019.
Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Allan Villanueva, 49th Infantry Battalion Commander, said during the encounter, Dar was with about 20 of his comrades and they were also able to neutralize three of his cohorts.
A military report disclosed that troops from the Army’s 49th Infantry Battalion heavily engaged at least 20 Daesh-inspired Maute fighters while scouring Barangay Dinaigan, Tubaran at 5:04 p.m. Thursday.
The gunfight ensured for an hour and 30 minutes, resulting in deaths of four Maute fighters, two of which were retrieved
from the encounter site by the engaged troops.
Soldiers also seized two Caliber 5.56 rifles with an M203 Grenade Launcher, a Caliber .45 pistol, hand and rifle grenades, pieces of ammunition, and a bandolier.
On March 11, Abu Tahir and Abu Jihad died in the combat operations conducted by the 55th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Calaludan, Pagayawan, Lanao del Sur.
Troops of the 55th IB also seized a carbine rifle from the engaged Maute fighters on Monday.
“We are advancing upon the enemy target with deliberate offensives, hitting and inflicting heavy casualties on Maute fighters,” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, the commander of Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom).
Unfortunately, four soldiers died whiile two others were wounded as a result of the encounter. Troops transported the remains of slain soldiers to Iligan City for proper disposition.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the bereaved families and friends of our soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in protecting our people against the terrorist group and we salute their gallantry and bravery. We also ensure that our wounded personnel will get the best medical care for their fast recovery,” Dela Vega said
“We are more motivated to continue the fight against spoilers of peace and progress in Mindanao,” he added.
Dela Vega said additional troops were deployed to pursue the fleeing terrorists and to ensure the safety and security of the local populace in the area.
“We also ask for prayers from all peace-loving people of the country for the eternal repose of our heroes and for our wounded soldiers. Your prayers are the most powerful tool for them and for the safety of all those who are still pursuing the enemies,” Dela Vega said.
“We will not stop until we neutralize the remaining terrorists and we dedicate this fight to our fallen comrades. Our soldiers are out there hunting for them ready to fight and die to attain peace in our communities,” he concluded