MARAWI CITY – Military casualties in ISIS fighting continue to increase as security officials announced the death of over a dozen soldiers in the battle for Marawi City in southern Philippines.
Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, an army spokesman, said at least 13 marines were killed in Friday’s fighting with militants who occupied much of the city since May 23. Herrera did not say how many more soldiers were wounded in house-to-house fighting, but other reports claimed at least four dozen had been injured.
Among the slain soldier was Lt. Frederick Savellana, whose unit recently overran and an encampment of the local ISIS group and recovered over P76 million in cash and cheques. The soldiers were killed after militants fired anti-tank rockets and grenade as the marines were advancing to retake a village near the heart of the city where enemy snipers had been positioned.
The military’s death toll is now nearly five dozens with many more injured since day one of the fierce clashes that officials claimed also killed over a hundred militants, although only 42 bodies had been recovered so far. More than two dozen civilians also perished in the violence that affected over 200,000 Muslims now in different evacuation centers in Iligan City and Lanao del Sur, one of 5 provinces under the troubled Muslim autonomous region.
Officials also announced the capture of Ominta Maute, also known by her other name as Farhana, the mother of the leaders of the local ISIS and the clan’s matriarch. She was captured in Lanao del Sur’s Masiu town along with 2 wounded militants who escaped military operations in Marawi, and 7 other women believed to be members of the Maute group while attempting to flee the province.
Security forces also recovered weapons and explosives from the matriarch, who is facing rebellion charges.
Just recently, the clan’s patriarch Cayamora Maute, was also arrested at a military checkpoint together with another wife and daughter, and a man in a rented van while trying to enter Davao City and police said a pistol and grenade were also recovered in the vehicle.
Also arrested in separate military operations were former Marawi mayor Fahad Salic and Cotabato City engineer Nasser Dilangalen who were both accused of supporting the local ISIS fighters. (Moh Saaduddin and Rhoderick Beñez)
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