By Francis Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday said that another soldier was killed when he was hit by sniper fire in the continuing battle in Marawi City.
AFP spokesman Major Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said the death of the still unidentified soldier brought to 155 the total number of government soldiers killed in the Marawi conflict which is nearing its fifth month on October 23.
Joint Task Force Marawi said a total of 753 Islamic State-inspired Maute Group terrorists have so far been killed in the fighting while recovered firearms number 805. The killed civilians remain at 47 while those rescued have reached 1,750.
“Early this (Friday) morning, we had an incident when we were operating in an area and incurred another casualty through sniper fire. And it’s a sad development because we were expecting that as we engaged more in these remaining areas and have better control of the peripheral areas, we’d be able to minimize that,” General Padilla said during the Mindanao Hour in Malacañang.
Padilla said fighting continues in an area of about seven to eight hectares in Marawi. “This is where most of the encounters with the enemy are occurring,” he said. “Unfortunately, we still face a very tenacious enemy who is determined to defend their area,” he added.
With regards to the rescue of 17 hostages – nine men and eight women – General Padilla said, “There were conflicting reports that some were surrenderees from the inside. I’d like to correct that. This might have been a mix-up between the hostages that were rescued and they may have been alluding to the nine men.”
Padilla also said that based on the debriefing done on the individuals, the remaining hostages number about 40, while the Maute-ISIS members are about 40 to 50.
The information learned from the debriefing of the rescued hostages, he said, is a very important factor in the planning for the remaining areas held by the terrorists, Padilla said.