MANILA, June 7 (Xinhua) -- The death toll in the ongoing clashes between government troops and Islamist militants in the southern Philippines has climbed to 193, a spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Wednesday.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that as of June 6 or 15 days after the fighting broke out, the military has recorded a total of 134 Maute militants, 39 troops, and 20 civilians.
The military said the remaining 100 or so militants are holed up in the city's financial district.
"They've established vintage points in the high ground areas. They've established sniper positions, that's why we cannot move easily with the fire shots. We're moving slowly," Padilla said.
Nevertheless, Padilla said the troops "are making headway" in their efforts to crush the remaining militants. "Their (the militants) world is getting smaller and smaller, and their ammunition is not in perpetuity, that's for sure," he said.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, commander of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command, said the troops are very cautious in carrying out their operations to avoid casualties.
He told reporters the operation to flush out the remaining militants in the financial district is very critical for the troops, adding that the Maute militants are "well positioned" and fortified the area.
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