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Pro-IS sniper in Marawi kills soon-to-marry Army junior officer

MARAWI CITY – A junior officer of Army’s Special Forces became the 159th government casualty after he was hit and killed by pro-Islamic State sniper while leading a team in the frontline in this war torn city.

Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of the Joint Task Group Ranao, confirmed that 1st Lt. Howard Juan was killed Monday while his team was advancing toward the defensive positions of Maute and Abu Sayyaf gunmen who are still holding 12 children and 16 women hostages.

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Brawner said Juan, a native of Isabela Province, was deployed here days after fighting erupted on May 23.

“He was killed by enemy sniper. He was going to marry his fiancée after his deployment here,” Brawner said.

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Brawner said Juan’s fiancée had arrived in Iligan City.

The location where Juan was slain was confined in the four to five hectares area controlled by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf gunmen.

“The fighting never stops, day and night, but now we are very careful because of the hostages’ presence in the area,” he said.

In a related development, government forces used their armored heavy equipment during their daily clearing operations in the main battle area.

Brawner said their “Transformers-equipment” composed of three Bulldozers printed with Optimus Prime, Megatrone and Ironhide and a backhoe named Bumblebee were useful for troops on the ground.

“We call them our combat engineers used to support the ongoing military operations to give way to the armor tanks and government forces,” Brawner said.

“Sometimes, if the fighting is intense, they are used as cover of our troops taking advance positions in the frontline,” he added.

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Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, commander of Western Mindanao Command, earlier said they are confident the war will end on or before October 15.

“The timeline we gave to our chief of staff was October 15. But we can achieve that early,” he said.

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TAGS: 1st Lt. Howard Juan, Islamic State, Joint Task Group Ranao, Marawi, Philippine news updates
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