FACE-TO-FACE: Soldiers recount terrorist encounters as Marawi purge continues

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 17 2017 05:57 PM

MARAWI CITY - Loud explosions and rattling gunfire still echo through Marawi City as government troops continue airstrikes and artillery attacks in four barangays considered as the terrorists' last place of refuge.

"They (terrorists) are still capable to inflict casualties towards our troops, meron pa ring snipers, anti tank weapons," Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesman of the Joint Task Force Marawi, said.

"In the last 48 hours, nagkaroon tayo ng vantage points, kitang-kita yung position nila kaya tuloy-tuloy ang surgical airstrike," Herrera said.

Some soldiers said they came face-to-face with some Maute group members as they scoured the city's enclaves to purge the terrorists out of their lairs.

"Kinabahan ako dun, nakita ko 'yung tao malapitan lang. Pareho kami may baril. Pareho kami pumuputok nag-uunahan kami kung sino makauna," Private First Class Mark Erwin Rule said about his encounter.

Rule sustained wounds on his right shoulder.

Scout Ranger Sgt. Christopher Tamparong said he sustained slight wounds on his leg after a close encounter with Maute members.

"'Pag insert namin, inambush kami. Nakatalon kami sa sasakyan. Pagtalon namin, nagcover kami. Pasalamat kami sa Panginoon," he said.

Both soldiers said they would be ready to go back to the war zone upon receiving clearance from military doctors.

"Nag-udyok sakin tapusin ang laban na ito para din sa mga tao. Hindi lang kami ang nahihirapan, pati mga sibilyan nahihirapan na din sila," Rule said. 

"Hindi ito para sa amin, para ito sa ating lahat" Tamparong said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday assured the public that there would be no spillover of violence in areas outside Marawi City, saying enemy forces were no longer capable of launching another significant attack.

Military officials said 225 extremists have been killed in the nearly month-long gunfights, but scores more were still hiding in key spots in the city.

At least 26 civilians and 59 government troops have died since the clashes erupted. Some 600 residents meanwhile remain trapped in the battle zone, desperate for food and at risk of being executed by the the militants.