Indonesian national captured in Marawi battle zone

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Updated to include statements from crisis management spokesman, military, details of capture

Marawi City (CNN Philippines, November 1) — An Indonesian national was captured Wednesday by government forces in the main battle area of Marawi City.

Lanao del Sur police chief Senior Supt. Joel Guyguyon said Muhammad Ilham Syaputra was arrested in clearing operations early Wednesday.

The province's Crisis Management Committee spokesperson, Zia Alonto Adiong, lauded the arrest, which was made by barangay officials.

"The arrest of Indonesian National involved in the siege of Marawi in the morning of November 1 by the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) of Brgy. Loksadatu validates the LGUs (local government units) position that civilian participation is essential in our collective effort to secure our communities from terrorist elements," Adiong said in a statement.

Following the Marawi crisis, military and civilian authorities have called on Filipinos nationwide to exercise vigilance and help stop the threat of extremist activity by reporting unusual activity or persons to law enforcement agencies.

Syaputra arrived in Manila on November 2016 to take part in the attempt to seize Marawi, said Guyguyon, speaking at a news briefing here.

"He was invited by I.H. (Isnilon Hapilon) na maging part ng struggle dito [to be part of the struggle here]," Guyguyon said, referring to the Abu Sayyaf leader who joined the Maute brothers in staging the Marawi siege. Hapilon was killed on October 16.

READ: FBI confirms death of Isnilon Hapilon via DNA sample – Lorenzana

Syaputra, 22, claimed he hailed from Medan, North Sumatra in Indonesia, and was one of the rebels behind the Jakarta terror attacks in January 2016 which left over 15 people dead.

The foreign national told authorities that there were still around 20 remaining Maute stragglers in the battle area. He was attempting to escape Marawi through a river that separates the battle area and the safe zone, officials said.

"Ang sabi niya is that natakot na siya na...wala naman silang pinaglalaban na so...baka sakaling makatakas siya," Guyguygon said.

[Translation: He said he was afraid...they were not fighting for anything so...he thought maybe he could escape.]

When Syaputra arrived at Barangay Loksadatu to ask for help in escaping, his physical features and inability to speak Filipino prompted the village peacekeeping force to turn him over to police, Guyguyon said.

He added that the capture of Syaputra was a "big blow" to flush out the remaining stragglers, because he could give them information on their hiding places.

"This is one of the big blows that was dealt against our enemies kasi ayaw nga nilang may lumabas because of the information na maibibigay doon sa kanilang puwesto," the police chief said.

[Translation: This is one of the big blows that was dealt against our enemies because they don't want information coming out that would detail their whereabouts.]

Guyguyon said Syaputra told them that Hapilon had plans to bomb other parts of the Philippines. But this was halted when the Maute began the Marawi siege.

"I think na-forego muna 'yun because they are concentrating on what happens in Marawi," the police chief said.

Among other effects seized from Syaputra included a cellphone, a fragmentation grenade, an Indonesian passport, and money in Philippine pesos, Saudi Arabian riyals, and Indonesian rupiah.

Guyguyon added Syaputra has a bullet wound and needed medical attention.

"We are preparing the investigation report para ma-file-an ng ating kapulisan ng [for the police to file a] case against him for rebellion and terrorism and others," he said.

Authorities said they were preparing to bring Syaputra to the Justice Department in Manila later Wednesday for inquest proceedings.

Adiong then added Lanao del Sur's LGUs must develop and strengthen a civilian security plan to complement the ongoing clearing operations.

Joint Task Force Ranao Deputy Commander Col. Romeo Brawner said there was no need to reactivate combat operations even with the presence of stragglers like Syaputra in a small area.

"It means that we will have to really continue with our clearing operations and we have to make sure na wala na talagang naiwan na mga Maute-ISIS sa lugar [that no more Maute-ISIS straggler are left in the area]," he told reporters.

Meanwhile, the National Capital Region Police Office is verifying reports of possible attacks in Metro Manila of remnants of the Maute Group.

Reports claimed these members are staying with their relatives in Taguig City and they will allegedly carry out bombing by using an ice cream cart or a box with candles and place it in crowded places.

Regional Director Oscar Albayalde of the Philippine National Police's in Metro Manila said they are not taking this information lightly and have increased police presence.

"As of this time we have not validated or confirmed that information yet. However, our intelligence operatives are continuously monitoring especially the Taguig area where we added a few teams from the regional public safety battalion and of course," Albayalde told CNN Philippines' News Night.

In recent days, individuals said to be financing the Maute Group have been arrested in Metro Manila.

On October 23, exactly five months since the war in Marawi erupted, the Philippine government declared the end of fighting in the city and victory against the ISIS-inspired Maute Group, considered Southeast Asia's "most serious threat of violent extremism."

Foreign nationals were involved with the ISIS-inspired Maute group, including Malaysian national Dr. Mahmud Ahmad, who was found dead in a building. Ahmad financed the attempt to attack Marawi.

EXCLUSIVE: Military video shows suspected remains of Marawi siege financier Malaysian Mahmud Ahmad

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is continuing clearing operations in the city to clear it of remaining threats, including stragglers.

CNN Philippines' Digital Producer Chad de Guzman contributed to this report.