Troops arrest 4 suspected Maute Group members

ZAMBOANGA CITY — The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) on Friday announced the arrest of four alleged members of the ISIS-inspired Maute Group in Lanao del Sur.

Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westmincom Chief, said the Joint Task Force ZamPeLan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao) also recovered an improvised bomb, three high-powered firearms, a pistol and illegal drugs paraphernalia from the suspects.

Galvez identified the arrested Maute group members as Pao Panganga alias Pao Faizal, Alex Areg Bagul, Alisata Tumao Maute and Saadra Macapanton Madayan.

Galvez said the suspects were arrested in separate law enforcement operations at around 3 a.m. Thursday in the towns of Piagapo and Saguiran, Lanao del Sur.

He said the suspects are wanted for their alleged involvement in kidnapping, killings, carnapping, extortion and illegal drugs trade in the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte.

He said the suspects were also responsible for the killing last year of Supt. Abner Wahab Santos, the former Marawi City police director.

He said Panganga was involved in the series of kidnappings in Marawi City, more notably the abduction of Mindanao State university employee Omira Lotao last March 5.

“This remarkable law enforcement operation typifies the degree of intelligence gathering, information sharing, and precise planning and execution by different AFP and PNP units under JTF ZamPelan commander Maj. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos,” Galvez said.

He added the help from local government units and civilians is also crucial for the success of operations against criminals.

“We commend this civilian-military partnership. A united endeavor such as this translates to peace and security that in turn shall spur progress in that part of Mindanao. Security forces can best help rid the country of criminals and bring about peaceful (communities) if the people will help us,” Galvez added. Teofilo Garcia Jr./

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