Three soldiers were dead and 52 were wounded in a clash with Maute terrorists that saw the military retake the strategic Bangolo Bridge inside the besieged city of Marawi, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Friday.
Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokeswoman for the AFP’s Western Mindanao Command, said most of the wounded suffered only slight injuries.
“The large number of wounded may be because of soldiers accidentally triggering other IEDs (improvised explosive devices) when instinctively trying to save fellow troops hit by previous explosions,” Petinglay explained.
Petinglay also said five Maute men were killed, mostly by government snipers, after the Bangolo Bridge was retaken by security forces, along with nearby structures of the area previously held by the Maute.
Fighting between soldiers and terrorists spanned from Thursday morning until midnight of Friday, Petinglay said.
The Bangolo Bridge is a “strategic” structure connecting the western part of Marawi to the main battle area in the east.
With this recent gain, military has compressed the Maute terrorists to the eastern side of the battle zone.
The retaking of the bridge raised the death toll in the ongoing siege: 136 government troops, 620 terrorists and 45 civilians.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman, said the offensive on the eve of the celebration of Eid’l Adha “has been among the toughest so far.”
“We are working to clear the remaining areas where the enemy is holding out,” Padilla said in a statement.
“[W]e lost three good men and incurred 52 wounded mostly from IEDs, although most were slightly injured, there were a few that were seriously hurt,” he added.
On Friday morning, military troops ceased operations and silenced their guns momentarily to pay respect for the observance of Eid’l Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice, said Padilla.
“The silence was observed for the entirety of the time for prayers,” he said in a separate statement.