|Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)|
By Jaime Laude
MANILA, Philippines - Thirteen Marines have been killed in 14 hours of gunbattle with Maute militants in Marawi City since Friday, officials said yesterday.
Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, the Army’s 1st Infantry Battalion spokesman, said 40 other troops were wounded in the firefight.
“We are saddened with the result... we have fatalities on the government side. We have incurred 13 killed in action,” Herrera said at a news conference in Marawi.
He said about 30-40 militants used civilians as human shields, making it hard for troops to operate, and also positioned themselves in the city’s many mosques.
The Marines were conducting a house-to-house search for militants allied with the Islamic State group who are still occupying parts of Marawi when the battle erupted Friday night in Barangay Lilot Madaya in the city’s Bangolo district.
The fresh casualties brought to 58 the number of government troops killed in the fighting, he said.
At least 138 militants and 20 civilians have also been killed.
Herrera said they are validating reports that the brothers Omar and Abdullah leading the Maute group were killed during the battle to control Marawi.
“We are still awaiting confirmation. We are still validating those reports but there are strong indications,” he said.
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