Death of 13 Marines in Marawi ‘acceptable statistics,’ says Año
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Año on Sunday said the death of 13 Marines during fierce close quarter combat in Marawi City on Friday was “an acceptable statistics.”
The figure spelled the biggest single day loss for the military since the Marawi crisis started on May 23.
But Año said it was even expected because what was happening in Marawi was a mixture of conventional and unconventional war.
“We don’t want to lose men in the fighting,” he said.
Año also said that the deaths suffered by the military – coupled with a high number of injuries at 40 on Friday – was brought about by the Maute group’s use of explosives against the advancing soldiers.
He said soldiers were aggressive in their push but the “enemy” was also well-positioned and even using some mosques as cover.
Corporal Jose Raymond Estoreon of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 7, the same unit involved in Friday 13-hour fight in Marawi, said most of them were injured by exploding rocket-propelled grenades and bombs.
“The enemies are hidden in high rise structures,” he said.
Staff Sergeant Dexter Cañon, also among the 40 soldiers injured on Friday, also spoke of sniper fires that targeted them.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, the commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said the high number of casualties was to be expected in urban combat situations such as in Marawi.
He cited as example the movie Black Hawk Down in driving his point.
“The enemy knows the terrain and they are well-entrenched,” Galvez said.
Soldiers have been struggling to dislodge hundreds of Maute fighters, who have been using tunnels, antitank weapons and human shields to fortify their positions.
The militants have withstood nearly three weeks of fighting already, even spoiling a government plan to raise the Philippine flag at the heart of Marawi City on Monday.
As of Sunday, fighting continued in the city and some journalists covering the development reported that their vehicles were being hit by wayward bullets.
On Sunday, GMA TV reporter Raffy Tima said they were leaving Marawi and was passing by Sarimanok area when the bumper of their vehicle was hit by sniper fire.
Tima, who was seated at the front, said it was fortunate that none of them was harmed./ac
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