37 members of Maute, Jemaah Islamiyah, killed in Lanao clashes – military

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Around 2,000 families were displaced following heightened military operations against the Maute terror group in Lanao del Sur.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 25) — Thirty-seven members of the Maute terror group, including four foreign suspects, were killed in a series of encounters in Lanao del Sur, the military said Tuesday.

Ground and air strikes against the terror group began early morning on April 22 in Barangay Gacap, in the town of Piagapo in Lanao del Sur, said Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief General Eduardo Año, in a chance interview with reporters.

Among those killed were members of the local Maute group, and three Indonesians and one Malaysian who were members of Jemaah Islamiyah, an Indonesia-based terror group with links to Al Qaeda, Año said.

The military believes Maute members obtained their long firearms from an Indonesian terrorist affiliated with Jemaah Islamiyah.

After nearly three days of fighting, government troops seized the Maute group's "main camp" in Piagapo on Monday, the military added.

Authorities recovered a flag with ISIS insignia, rifle and fragmentation grenades, other items used for making explosives, cellphones, and camouflage uniforms, said Lt. Gen Carlito Galvez, chief of the military's Western Mindanao Command, in a press briefing on Monday.

A passport belonging to an Indonesian national was also recovered, he said.

Operations continue following reports that Maute members are planning terror attacks on still unidentified targets.

"Rest assured that the AFP is on top of the situation and that the current operations are all intended to diminish the capability of the Maute Group to conduct terror attacks," Galvez said.

The military operations were launched after residents from the affected areas reported the presence of terrorists in their community, including some Indonesian and Malaysian nationals, Galvez said.

Hundreds flee homes amid clashes

The clashes have displaced 416 families or almost 2,000 individuals from Barangays Gacap, Tapocan, and a portion of Tambo in Piagapo, the Department of National Defense (DND) said in a statement.

The DND added that some families from Sitio Kabasaran, Barangay Dado in Balindong town, were also displaced as the fighting reached the boundary of Piagapo and Balindong.

The old municipal hall of Piagapo in Barangay Tambo served as evacuation center for the displaced families.

No civilians were hurt in the clashes, said the defense department.

The Maute group is blamed for the Davao night market blast that killed 12 people in September last year. The military believes the Maute group is seeking the attention of international terrorist network ISIS.

The Armed Forces has promised to defeat the Maute and other terrorist and lawless groups in Mindanao within this year, on the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte.

This is a developing story. Please refresh page for updates.

CNN Philippines' Digital Producer Eimor Santos, Senior Correspondent David Santos, Zamboanga City-based journalist Liza Jocson, and Cagayan de Oro City-based journalist Alwen Saliring contributed to this report.