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Troops seize 11 kilos of shabu in Maute lair

By GENALYN D. KABILING • FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD

Troops on Sunday recovered 11 kilos of suspected shabu valued at around P250 million in a stronghold previously occupied by the Maute Group in Marawi City.

The illegal drugs were recovered after an encounter between troops and the Maute Group, according to presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella.

“Progress on the ground continues to be positive, although action is carefully calibrated,” Abella said during the Mindanao Hour briefing in Malacañang yesterday.

“Troops have recovered sachets of shabu and paraphernalia at formerly Maute-Daesh/ISIS occupied positions in many instances during the clearing operations,” he said.

Brigadier General Rolando Joselito Bautista, Army 1st Infantry Division chief and Task Force Marawi commander, said troops of the Alpha Company led by 1st Lt. Emerson Tapang of the Army 49th Infantry Battalion recovered the shabu, along with four high powered firearms, at 6 p.m. Sunday, as they were conducting combat clearing operations.

He said soldiers spotted men in black emerging from a cluster of houses that prompted them to maneuver. The terrorists put up a fight but fled while carrying items taken from one of the houses.

Bautista said the estimated street value of the recovered high grade shabu is between P110 million to P250 million.

Abella acknowledged that the large shabu haul has bolstered President Duterte’s statement that illegal drug money was fueling the rebellion in Marawi. “We assume that is so. It came from Marawi except we cannot reveal the exact location,” he said.

Numerous sachets of shabu have been recovered by troops in the fighting positions of terrorists since the first and second week of their attack in Marawi. The troops said they faced extremists evidently high on illegal drugs.

The illegal drug seizure was the latest progress reported by Abella about the government operations in flushing out the rebels from the besieged city of Marawi.

Other “significant developments” were the recovery of strategic vantage points by advancing troops and dwindling enemy resistance.

“Enemy resistance continues to wane and enemy held areas continue to diminish as government security forces press its advance,” Abella said.

He said troops were getting deeper into previously held enemy positions following the recovery of cadavers of terrorists and their firearms, computers and peripherals, as well as communications equipment and accessories.

“Clearing operations continue to yield positive results. Out of 96 barangays, only portions of four barangays remain as problematic areas and where focused military operations in urban terrain is ongoing,” Abella said.

The continued use of snipers, improvised explosive devices, and rocket propelled grenades from remaining vantage points, however, remains to be a challenge, according to Abella.

The terrorists also continue to use civilians as shields and situated themselves in mosques, he said.

Meanwhile, 62 soldiers have been killed in the ongoing clashes in Marawi, the Armed Forces said.

Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said two more troops from the Philippine Marines and one from the Philippine Army were killed in a day-long encounter on Sunday.

“There was day-long firefight that occurred yesterday. Unfortunately, two Marines and an Army personnel were slain as a result of it,” Padilla said. The identities of the slain soldiers were not released pending the notification of their families.

Two hundred fifty seven Maute fighters and 26 civilians were killed while 1,637 civilians were in the fighting about to enter its fourth week.

Troops have recovered 250 firearms from the terrorists.

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