Philippine troops yesterday killed five suspected militants in a pre-dawn assault on their hideout in besieged Marawi City, where more than 900 people have died in the nearly four-month conflict.
The clash erupted less than 12 hours after President Rodrigo Duterte visited the main battle area in Marawi City, 800 kilometres south of Manila, said Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, a military spokesman.
It brought to 670 the number of Islamic State-allied militants killed in the crisis, which also left 147 soldiers and police officers dead, the military said.
The terrorists have killed 45 civilians, while 40 displaced residents have died in evacuation centres due to illnesses.
Duterte, accompanied by top military and defence officials, inspected the municipality’s main mosque that was recovered by troops last month.
“The president’s recent presence in the main battle area has left a mark in our troops in their strong desire to end the crisis in Marawi,” said Brigadier General Rolando Bautista, commander of the military’s Joint Task Force Marawi.
Fighting has been confined to a 20-hectare area in the centre of Marawi City, where about 40 Islamic State-allied militants were still holed up in various buildings, the military said.
More than half a million people have also been displaced in the conflict, which began on May 23 when government forces attempted to arrest a local Islamic State leader, prompting the militants to launch simultaneous attacks.
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