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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Philippines arrests militant Maute brother

The Philippines military has arrested one of the Maute brothers, a senior member of the Islamic State-backed militants it is fighting in a southern city.

Mohammad Noaim Maute was arrested at a checkpoint near the coastal city of Cagayan de Oro just after dawn on Thursday, said Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, a military spokesman.

Two of Mohammad's brothers, Omarkhayam and Abdullah, lead the Maute gang that is at the forefront of a vicious battle with security forces for Marawi City, which is in its fourth week.

Marawi is about 100km south of Cagayan de Oro but it was not clear whether Mohammad was coming from the besieged city.

Most of the other seven Maute brothers, including Omarkhayam and Abdullah, are believed to be in Marawi.

Their parents were taken into custody last week in separate cities.

News of the arrest comes as the Philippines military confirmed that US troops were on the ground near Marawi City but are not involved in fighting the Islamist militants.

The military had previously said the US was providing technical assistance to end the occupation.

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