Philippines arrests suspected pro-ISIS militant involved in Marawi siege

Damaged houses, buildings and a mosque are seen inside Marawi city, on Oct 25, 2017. Nasser Lomondot, who was said to have participated in the killing of civilians in the city during the seige, was arrested in Manila. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (AFP) - Philippine police announced on Monday (March 5) the arrest of a suspected pro-ISIS militant accused of killing civilians in last year's deadly siege of the southern city of Marawi.

Hundreds of gunmen flying black Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) flags seized Marawi in May last year, triggering a five-month battle that claimed more than 1,100 lives, in a bid to establish a caliphate in the largely Catholic country.

Nasser Lomondot was arrested on Saturday in Manila, months after he fled the fighting in Marawi.

"He participated in the killing of innocent civilians and committed violence against female and child hostages," regional military spokesman Major Ronald Suscano told reporters.

As government forces battled to wrest back control of Marawi, Lomondot directed a diversionary attack by pro-ISIS gunmen in the neighbouring town of Marantao, Suscano added.

"He was one of the key planners of the attack in Marantao town ...while the firefight was still ongoing" in Marawi, Suscano said.

Lomondot was arrested with a second pro-ISIS suspect, Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said in a statement.

The Philippine military warned last month that the remaining militants from Marawi have mustered a force of about 200 gunmen to launch a second attempt to put up a caliphate in the country's south.

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