Marawi siege, Day 4: Death toll rises to 44

Roel Pareño - The Philippine Star

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The number of people killed in clashes between government troops and gunmen of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group increased to 44 yesterday as fighting raged for the fourth day in Marawi City.

The military said among those killed were 31 Maute terrorists, 11 soldiers and two police officers.

“So far we have 11 soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the peace loving residents of Marawi,” said Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson for Western Mindanao Command.

The four days of firefight with the militants also left 39 soldiers wounded.

Brig. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, commander of Joint Task Force ZamPeLan, said the militants sustained the most casualties during the fighting in Barangay Bangulo in Marawi on Thursday morning.

Bautista said 18 militants were killed during the two-hour firefight.

Troops engaged some 30 Maute militants in a firefight during clearing operations on two bridges in the area.

“We entered the Bangulo area and in the process neutralized 18 (Maute gunmen) and recovered five high-powered firearms, bringing the total of terrorists killed to 31,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Restituto Padilla said.

Padilla said there were foreigners in the Maute group that were killed.

Barangay Bangulo is among 12 villages in the outskirts of the city where the Maute gunmen have reportedly put up strong defensive positions.

As the fighting advanced towards the city proper on Thursday, two groups of bandits attacked Camp Ranao, headquarters of the Army’s 103rd Brigade located just outside  Marawi City proper.

Another group occupied the compound of the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative Inc. (Lasureco) in the city.

Wimpy Fuentabella, spokesman for the Department of Energy, said an official of the Lasureco reported Thursday that a firefight broke out in the compound. 

“They were able to evacuate the compound by 2 p.m. By that time, the compound was already occupied by gunmen,” Fuentabella said.

The number of fatalities from the Maute group increased on Wednesday when troops killed 13 more militants during the assault. – With Jaime Laude, Perseus Echeminada

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