The Armed Forces of the Philippines has launched “precise” air strikes in three barangays (villages) in Marawi City as fighting with the remaining members of the IS-linked Maute Group went on the third day.
“’Yung ginagawa natin, napaka-precise. Gumagamit tayo ng surgical air strikes (What we used is very precise. We used surgical air strikes),” Army’s First Infantry Division Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera said in a televised press briefing in Marawi City on Thursday.
He said they warned the residents through radio and the local government units to leave their homes before they conducted the bomb runs.
The fighting started on Tuesday afternoon after the government forces conducted a raid on the safehouse of Isnilon Hapilon, a top leader of the Abu Sayyaf based in Basilan and also believed to be a leader of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia. The terrorists torched facilities, took over parts of the city and took hostages as the gun battle erupted.
Herrera said the bomb runs were conducted in the barangays of Gadungan, Basak Malutlut and Bangon as they tried to flush out the remaining 30 to 40 local terrorists.
“Mahilig po silang mag-move, so ’yun po ang tinututukan natin ngayon. … Gumagamit po tayo ng combined arms ano; this means combination ng armor assets natin, ng infantry and special operations units, and other units para ma-neutralize,” he said.
(They like moving, so that’s what we focused on. … We used combined arms; this means combination of our armor assets, of the infantry and special operations units, and other units to neutralize them.)
He also said they believed that Hapilon was still in Marawi City, based on the reports they are receiving from the community.
The fighting has so far left 7 government troops killed and 31 wounded. The military also claimed that 13 local terrorists were killed, but only 2 bodies were recovered. Thousands of residents have left the city to escape.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to mount more attacks in Mindanao and the rest of the country in response to the government’s declaration of martial law.
“The Party calls on the NPA to plan and carry out more tactical offensives across Mindanao and the entire archipelago,” it said in a statement released to media.
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