The Maute group’s stronghold in Marawi City is “getting smaller” but there are about 50 to 60 enemies battling soldiers, more than what the military estimated.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman, said the area being held by the Maute terrorists has been reduced to just over half a kilometer grid square.
“I am happy to inform you that military operations in the area is progressing very well. Previously, we have been talking about slightly over a kilometer grid square, and then a kilometer grid square. Now, it’s slightly over half a kilometer grid square. So the world of the enemy is getting smaller,” Padilla told reporters.
But he clarified that there are still 50 to 60 enemies left, higher than the 20 to 40 Maute members earlier announced.
“The recent validation by our ground commanders also disclosed that we still face about 50 to 60 armed fighters contrary to previous announcements and assessments that we said they were less than this,” Padilla said.
He added that more than 30 hostages are being held by the Maute Group.
Padilla said fighting has been concentrated in smaller areas but the military face a challenging job in clearing the city because of the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that were left by the enemy.
“The main battle area remains complex with the continued discovery of many IEDs and unexploded ordnance. And this is a part of the continuing challenges that we are facing and continuing to address,” Padilla said.
“But operations are progressing very well, and we have had no one killed in action for the last eight days. Unfortunately, two soldiers lost their legs because of tripping into IEDs that were left in a building that they were clearing,” he added.
Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said that as of August 18, 573 terrorists, 128 troops and 45 had been killed in the fighting.
Soldiers also recovered 635 firearms from the terrorists while 1,728 civilians trapped in the fighting were rescued.