THE military on Friday accused the Maute terrorist group of using children as human shields, as the death toll in Marawi City reached 175 on the 11th day of fighting.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, also said soldiers have seized 98 firearms from the gunmen, and raised the possibility that these were obtained from rogue military men.
“Compounding developments in the battle remain as follows: (a) that the enemy is using children/civilians as human shields; (b) that the enemy is using madrasahs (Islamic schools) as staging areas and mosques as sniper nest,” Padilla said in a report released to the media.
Padilla said 36 government troops have been killed in action during the ongoing clearing operations in Marawi, a Muslim majority city in Lanao del Sur province that is part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The number Maute members killed remained at 120, but gunmen continue to occupy some commercial establishments “defensible enemy lairs,” he said.
Padilla said the military’s focus is on clearing operations, the rescue of trapped residents, recovery of civilian casualties, and assistance to local government units, civil society organizations and nongovernment organizations conducting relief operations.
“[We] continue [to]call on the remaining terrorists to surrender while there is an opportunity, or face the dire consequence of military action,” Padilla added.