Butig clashes: What we know so far

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Armed men attacked the patrol base of the Army's 51st Infantry Battalion in Butig town, Lanao del Sur last February 20.

The group is identified as the Maute group linked to an Indonesian terrorist who has known ties to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

Also read: Thousands displaced by firefight in Lanao del Sur

What's the latest?

Fighting has stopped after more than a week of clashes between government forces and the Maute group, but authorities are not letting residents return home yet.

Troops have seized the Maute group's main camp. It remains unclear what this group is fighting for and their motives in staging attacks against the government. 

Government officials and the military will conduct a post-crisis assessment of the situation.

The military on Tuesday (March 1) raised the Philippine flag in the camp it had overtaken and is now holding the ground in Butig.

Related: AFP overruns extremists' camp in Lanao

Col. Roseller Murillo is the commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, where the 51st Infantry Battalion falls under.

In an interview with CNN Philippines Chief Correspondent Pia Hontiveros, Murillo said the military is still conducting clearing operations within the vicinity.

He also said the Army coordinated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to reposition its posts and withdraw from the area while conducting military operations.

Murillo said around 7,800 individuals were displaced because of the clash. He said a number of evacuees went to relatives and families in nearby areas.

Murillo said the military is expecting the group to retaliate.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) held medical missions in some areas affected by the fighting. After conducting an initial assessment, the DOH identified diseases brought by hunger and respiratory diseases brought by inhalation of gunpowder.

The social welfare office of Lanao del Sur have also distributed relief goods to evacuees.

Related: Lanao del Sur evacuees get aid

Butig_firefight_5_CNNPH.png Residents of Butig affected by the clash received relief goods from the province's social welfare office  

What is the Maute group?

Murillo said the military first encountered members of the group in 2013 when their checkpoint operation in Madalum town in Lanao del Sur was attacked.

Some attackers were injured and were left behind. The military, he said, conducted operations and was able to trace their identities and confirm their link to the Maute group.

Murillo said the Maute group may have over a hundred members. Their equipment, he added, may have been obtained from a foreign terrorist who was neutralized in 2012.

It is still unclear what the group's motives are but based on the reports they obtained, Murillo said the Maute group believes "non-believers of Islam should be killed."

Murillo labeled them as a terrorist group because "Islam doesn't teach those kind of practices."

He said the Maute group has been recruiting mostly young people.

"The fact that yung target nila are minors delikado yun because di ba pag bata madaling madali iconvince," said Murillo.

[Translation: "The fact that they're targeting minors is dangerous, because young people can be easily convinced."]

Troops who fought them report members of the Maute group appeared to have been high on drugs, he added.

"One of the items we recovered is drug paraphernalia."

Murillo also said the armed group may be using the government's non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law to encourage locals to join them.

Butig-Lanao_CNNPH.png

Where is Butig?

Butig is a sixth class municipality in the province of Lanao del Sur. Based on the 2010 census, it has a population of 16,642 people.

It is subdivided into 16 barangays:

  • Butig Proper
  • Cabasaran
  • Coloyan Tambo
  • Dilabayan
  • Dolangan
  • Pindolonan
  • Bayabao Poblacion
  • Poktan
  • Ragayan
  • Raya
  • Samer (Dama)
  • Sandab Madaya
  • Sundig
  • Tiowi
  • Timbab

The closest city to Butig is Marawi City.

CNN Philippines Chief Correspondent Pia Hontiveros and Iligan City-based journalist Ayeesha Dicali contributed to this report.