At least 31 members of the Maute terrorist group have been killed in ongoing gunbattles in Marawi City, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) said on Thursday.
In a statement, WESMINCOM said 13 more Maute group members were killed in a 2-hour gunfight Thursday morning as government forces cleared two bridges heading toward Bangulo, Marawi.
"As of this report, 31 terrorists were already neutralized and 6 high-powered firearms were recovered by the troops,” said Brig. Gen. Rolly Bautista, head of Joint Task Force ZamPeLan.
"Our troops are doing deliberate operations in areas we believe are still occupied or infested with the terrorists' presence. I specifically ordered our soldiers to locate and destroy these terrorists as soon as possible,” he said.
Six more soldiers died in fresh clashes earlier Thursday, bringing the death toll on the government side to 13, following the death of five soldiers and two police officers earlier in the week.
Meanwhile, 16 civilians were rescued in clearing operations in Barangay Kilala.
"We once more call on the people in the community to join us fight terrorism. Provide your security forces with information that will contribute to the neutralization of these agents of deaths and destruction,” said Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., commander of WESMINCOM.
The pandemonium in Marawi first erupted on Tuesday, after extremists torched several buildings and battled state forces, leaving 7 state troops and 13 Maute fighters dead.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the entire Mindanao on the same day.
On Wednesday, the military announced that the extremists have fled and that the government has recaptured the city hall, the Mindanao State University, and the Amai Pakpak Medical Hospital.
A lull in the fighting then allowed Marawi residents to flee to the neighboring towns of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro in droves.
Areas where the skirmishes started remained "ghost towns" on Thursday, ABS-CBN sources said. - with reports from Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News