Maute death toll now at 191 — AFP

MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday announced that it has so far neutralized 191 Maute Group terrorists in the ongoing operations to clear Marawi City of the lawless elements.

“The AFP has greatly diminished the number of the terrorists. So far 191 were confirmed dead while undetermined number of them killed were being validated,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said.

A total of 158 firearms were also seized in the ongoing operations, he added.

Government losses as of Saturday stands at 58 troops with 20 civilians executed by the terrorists.

“However, the recalcitrant remnants of the Maute-ISIS continue their stiff resistance while holed in fortified buildings and structures,” Arevalo pointed out.

Using these defensive positions, the terrorists are using sniper fires, mortar fire, anti-tank rounds, and improvised explosive devices to kill anyone — government security forces, relief and rescue workers, and civilians — who get in the way of their fanatical desire to dismember Marawi from the Philippines and establish it as a “Wilayat” or an ISIS province in this part of Asia, the military official said.

“Your AFP and PNP will continue to break the heavy resistance of and clear Marawi from the Maute-ISIS group, restore normalcy in the city, and make way for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi,” he added.

And to be able to fulfill that mission, Arevalo said that there is need to use armor, artillery and air power assets to breach the terrorists stronghold and their underground fortresses.

“This has since become a fight not only of your security forces, but also of every peace-loving Filipino deserving of a peaceful and progressive nation,” he pointed out.

“This war is between good and evil. Everyone needs everybody to stand up, unite, fight against, and repulse the onslaught of the forces of evil attempting to establish foothold in our land. We would not and should not surrender even an inch of our soil to the harbingers of doom and perfidy,” Arevalo concluded. PRIAM  NEPOMUCENO/