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Army troops kill 11 terrorists in Maguindanao del Sur

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Up to 11 members of the Dawlah Islamiya were killed in a more than two-hour running gunfight in the hinterland barangay of Tuayan in Datu Hofer, Maguindanao del Sur on Friday afternoon.

The Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade, in a report yesterday to Maj. Gen. Alex Rillera, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said that hostilities erupted when the slain terrorists opened fire at soldiers – checking on reports by residents of Barangay Tuayan about the terrorist group’s presence in the area – who approached their location from two directions.

Soldiers from the 601st found two M14 and five M16 rifles, three B40 shoulder-fire anti-tank rocket launchers and five homemade bombs beside the cadavers of the slain members of the Dawlah Islamiya.

Local officials said three Dawlah Islamiya members were wounded in the gunfight, seen being carried away by companions who retreated when they ran out of ammunition. Military forces did not suffer any casualties.

The Associated Press saw a confidential initial government report about the military operation, which stated that two Philippine air force fighter planes dropped eight 500-pound bombs in the hinterland areas where the militants were spotted. Two military helicopters further targeted the militants.

This came after 13 armed militants belonging to the Dawla Islamiyah surrendered with their firearms to the military, said Rillera.

It was not immediately clear if the militants provided information that helped the military decide to launch Friday’s assault.

“This is the good side of coming out and laying down your guns – you can now live peacefully with your loved ones,” Rillera told the militants, who surrendered in a ceremony on Thursday in South Cotabato.

The Dawlah Islamiya, operating in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has a reputation for bombing passenger vehicles and business establishments whose owners refuse to pay protection money on a monthly basis.

Members of the multi-sector municipal peace and order councils in Datu Hofer and in nearby towns had confirmed that the cadavers of the 11 Dawlah Islamiya terrorists had been turned over to barangay officials for