MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed that two soldiers and a police officer were killed and another 12 were wounded as government forces strives to neutralize Maute Group members in Marawi City, Lanao Del Sur.
This was bared by AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo during a briefing Wednesday.
“(As of this time) there are two soldiers killed along with a police officer along with 12 others wounded,” he said in Filipino.
Arevalo added that they still have no information on whether Maute Group members have casualties in the series of gunbattles with government security forces in Marawi City.
Likewise, validation efforts are still ongoing to determine on the veracity of reports that the terrorists took several civilian hostages including a priest.
The clash between Maute Group members started 2 p.m. Tuesday at Barangay Basak, Malutlut when government security forces learned of the presence of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who allied with the Maute Group, and his cohorts.
Hapilon was reported severely wounded in the series of military operations in Lanao Del Sur early this January.
The former is reportedly the representative of the ISIS terror group in the Philippines.
This prompted military and police units to conduct a law enforcement operation but they were fired on first by the bandits,
“The security forces were fired upon constraining them to retaliate,” Arevalo stressed.
Initial reports said that at least one soldier was killed and eight others were wounded in this exchange.
“Follow up operations are still ongoing and we cannot reveal other details so as not to compromise operational security. Follow on forces are underway as we speak to further ensure that we will keep the grip of the situation,” the AFP official added.
Arevalo also urged the public to refrain from posting in social media information that would exacerbate the situation especially photos and videos on the movements of troops and on terrorist propaganda circulating through social media.
“We will continue to provide updates as often as possible with due regard to the security of our operating forces and the conduct of the operations itself,” he added. Priam Nepomuceno/PNA-northboundasia.com