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AFP hunts remnant of Maute terror group

Military authorities said all of the seven Maute siblings who led the siege of Marawi City had died in clashes with government forces from May 23 to October 23.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. of the Western Mindanao Command, told a meeting of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Regional Peace and Order Council (ARMM-RPOC) here on Monday that the military is now hunting down a senior Maute leader, identified as Abu Dar, who remains at large.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman presided the RPOC meeting at the ARMM executive building Monday.

Abu Dar, a Maranao, was a member of the central leadership core of the Maute terror group and was seen in the video plotting the Marawi siege.

Government forces recovered the video. Siblings Omar and Abdullah, founders of the Maute group, were both killed in the almost five-month war in Marawi. The Maute patriarch, Cayamora, died of lingering illness while in detention in Manila. He was arrested by Task Force Davao operatives days after the siege in May.

Cayamora's first wife, Farhana, matriarch of the seven slain terrorists, was arrested by police in Masiu town, Lanao del Sur in August. She and two other sons were facing rebellion charges.

Speaking during the RPOC meeting, Galvez said that Abu Dar is the probable successor of Omar and Abdulla Maute.

“He can likely assume leadership of Maute terror group,” he said.

Mayor Dimnatang Pansar of Butig, hometown of the Mautes, corroborated Galvez assertion that all the Maute brothers had died.

Several Maranaos who have “Maute” as family name were either held for questioning or have gone underground for fear of getting arrested.

“We will help them return to their communities but subject to coordination with the police and the military,” Hataman said of the “good Mautes,” as their town mates ostracized some of them.

ARMM Vice Governor Al Rashid Alonto-Lucman told reporters his daughter’s classmate in medical school surnamed Maute had dropped from school after the siege. He said the Maute girl is in a dilemma when to continue studies.

Speaking to the Lanao town mayors, Hataman said local government executives should have strong government presence in their towns to prevent thriving of terrorists, like the Maute siblings.

“War is destructive. We have to prevent conflicts within our level first before we let the military come in,” Hataman said.

Hataman also ordered the local executives to help locate Abu Dar who, according to military intelligence sources, is leading the regrouping of terrorists in Lanao del Sur.

Galvez rallied the local executives to help fight terrorism at their level.

“If we fail, we will give these violent religious extremists an issue they can use to generate hatred to the government and entice prospective recruits to join their fold,” Galvez said.

Hataman also vowed his administration has enough funds to help rebuild Marawi and the surrounding towns affected by the conflict.

Edwin Fernandez / PNA