Residents in at least eight hinterland barangays of Inabanga have refused to return to their homes in fear that Abu Sayyaf terrorists who survived during Tuesday’s gun battle with police and military forces might caught up with them.
Following Tuesday’s showdown between the terrorist group and the military, hundreds of residents from barangays Napo, Lomboy, Baguhan, Canlinte, Dagnawan, Maria Rosario, Cawayan and Lonoy have evacuated as news broke out that seven members of the Islamic militants have escaped the military operations are were on the run.
On Wednesday, a mandatory evacuation was conducted when military and police forces were to conduct clearing operations and the continuing threat of the surviving Abu Sayyaf members.
The evacuees numbered to as high as 1,116 families on Wednesday at the height of the clearing operations.
As of last night, Inabanga Mayor Josephine Jumamoy bared to the Chronicle that the number of evacuees had gone down to 259 families. Out of this number, 211 families are staying at Dagnawan High School.
There are currently 163 families from Barangay Lomboy that are still staying at the Dagnawan evacuation center, while 36 families are from Barangay Dagnawan, 8 families are from Barangay Baguhan, and two families each from Barangays Maria Rosario and Canlinte.
Thirty-three families remain at the Dagohoy High School evacuation center who are coming from Barangays Napo, Cawayan and Lonoy Cainsican.
Meanwhile, 15 families are still housed at the Cambitoon Elementary School.
According to Mayor Jumamoy, the tense situation on the ground, especially in Barangay Napo where the gun battle occurred, including in the adjacent villages, have been stabilized due to the increased presence of the police and military which led many evacuees to return to their homes.
However, many villagers are still fearful of going back to their homes as there are no categorical report as to the whereabouts of the terrorists who survived the clash.
In fact, reports reaching the Chronicle bared that one barangay, Liloan Sur, had become a virtual ghost town as all of its 223 families have left their homes and are either staying at evacuation centers or their relatives in other barangays.
Kag. Leticia Son of Barangay Liloan Sur had relayed the information gathered by the Chronicle saying that their village is considered as a no man’s land. While there are a few families who attempted to visit their homes, government troops conducting clearing operations at the area have barred them from returning and told them to turn back to the evacuation center.
According to Kag. Son, some residents of said barangay are staying at the town’s gym while others at a nearby covered court in Barangay Nabuad.