AFP: 40 members of Maute killed, 20 soldiers wounded
At least 40 members of the Maute terrorist group were killed and 20 soldiers were wounded in the ongoing military operations in Butig, Lanao del Sur.
“Around 20 are wounded among our soldiers, most of them are slight wounds. We are validating 40 deaths from the Maute side,” Armed Forces public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said on Tuesday.
The military operations that started on Thursday last week continued on Tuesday. Members of the Maute group, estimated between 100 and 200, have occupied parts of the town since last week. They also raised the flag of the Islamic State in an abandoned town hall.
“Our troops are continuously pressing their way forward to dislodge the members of the Maute group… The operations are not easy because it is open to snipers. There are possibilities of improvised explosive devices along the way so they would have to be very cautious,” Arevalo said.
The Maute group is blamed for the Davao City night market bombing last September which killed 14 people and wounded dozens.
The terrorist group has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State, but Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, in a separate interview with reporters, said they have yet to confirm official links between the Maute group and the ISIS.
“Maybe they are talking, but as to whether they are already officially a part of the ISIS, we have not confirmed that yet,” he said. JE/rga