The military on Saturday said no civilians have been confirmed killed in air strikes targeting members of the terrorist Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups in Marawi City.
This after residents reported to an ABS-CBN News team seeing neighbors killed following a bomb drop on Friday.
The military again conducted a bomb run on Saturday, destroying four houses, including that of Lanao Del Sur Rep. Jun Papandayan.
" No civilians were reportedly killed. Limited payload rockets were used to neutralize sniper positions. All strikes were all observed," said Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command.
He said government launched air strikes to stop the terrorist rampage, which could have led to a high death toll. Clashes between government and terrorists erupted on Tuesday as state forces attempted to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the known anointed leader of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia.
Mindanao has been under martial law since the firefight began.
"The burning of houses were done [on] purpose by the Maute to overrun our soldiers position. If we will not use air strikes, our operations will be stalled forever and our casualties may reach to a hundred," said
"As the Campaign Commander, it is my responsibility and accountability to keep our people safe and bring normalcy soonest," he said.
Bomb drops may be expected to continue as the military is eyeing “more surgical airstrikes” to quickly clear the city of the local terrorist groups.
“In as much as we would like to avoid collateral damage, these rebels are forcing the hand of government by hiding and holding out inside private homes, government buildings and other facilities,” AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said in a statement on Saturday.
The military is looking to crush the terrorist groups in three days and restore peace in the city.
Only 10 percent of some 200,000 Marawi residents are known to remain in the city as most have evacuated to neighboring areas, particularly Iligan City.