MANILA – Government forces will step up efforts to repel terrorist groups from Marawi City and hope to prevail in three days, the military said Saturday.
This as government continued bomb runs to flush out members of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups, who have been engaged in clashes with government troops since Tuesday.
In a press briefing, Western Mindanao Command chief Major General Carlito Galvez Jr. said local government officials and government troops would do their part to gain peace in Marawi City.
“I assure the public that, with the help of our governor, and local government units, rest assured that the military will do their part…Mamadaliin po namin ang normalcy, [so that residents can] go back in time for Ramadan…Hopefully tingnan natin, within three days we can [clear the city],” he told reporters in a briefing in Marawi City.
Local officials said only about 10 percent of Marawi City’s more than 200,000 residents remained in the conflict-stricken area.
Most evacuated when the firefights began, and others fled when the Armed Forces initiated its strategic airstrikes.
Those who plan to remain in the city until the end of hostilities should stay away from engagement areas and lock down their houses, the government said.
Authorities are closely guarding the Marawi City Hall as it is "the locality's symbol of sovereignty," officials said.
At least 31 suspected terrorists have been killed in clashes since Tuesday, six of whom were believed to be fighters from Malaysia and Indonesia, Armed Forces spokesperson Restituto Padilla earlier said.
At least 11 soldiers and two police officers have meanwhile been killed. Government has yet to release a confirmed count on civilian deaths as of this posting, but nine hostages were known to have been slain by the Maute group on Tuesday.
Their bodies were found in Marawi City on Saturday as the fighting entered the fifth day.