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AFP: Troops gain more ground in Marawi, more Maute members killed

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 7/17/2017 Gutierrez, Angelo
A government trooper takes cover behind a concrete structure while battling with Maute terrorists in Marawi City on Tuesday, July 12, 2017. The fighting began on May 23 when hundreds of militants rampaged through Marawi, the most important Muslim city in the mainly Catholic Philippines, waving the black flags of the Islamic State (IS) group. AFP/Richel Umel © AFP/Richel Umel A government trooper takes cover behind a concrete structure while battling with Maute terrorists in Marawi City on Tuesday, July 12, 2017. The fighting began on May 23 when hundreds of militants rampaged through Marawi, the most important Muslim city in the mainly Catholic Philippines, waving the black flags of the Islamic State (IS) group. AFP/Richel Umel

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Sunday said troops are gaining more ground in Marawi City as more members of the Maute group are killed in the ongoing clashes.

Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesperson of Task Force Marawi, said the number of the Maute-led militant group in the city has gone down to between 60 and 70 from the earlier estimate of "more or less 80."

"Their capability continue to decline, their presence continue to decline... Their strength is now between 60 to 70... We continue to achieve good gains for now. We're covering more areas... We are gaining more grounds and we are committed and focused to finish the job as soon as possible," Herrera said.

AFP public affairs chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said that as of Sunday, a total of 405 militants have been killed by troops in Marawi City. The number of firearms of the Maute group seized has also climbed to 503.

Arevalo also reported that a total of 95 soldiers have been killed in the continuing conflict. The number of civilians killed was still at 45 and those rescued were 1,723.

Herrera, meanwhile, said that they were confident that it's just "a matter of time" before the government can fully retake Marawi City from the local terrorists, which laid siege to the city on May 23.

He said troops were able to clear around 60 buildings in the battle zone. He said troops need to clear at least 500 more structures.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law after the Maute group's attack in the city. The 60-day period set by Malacañang for the implementation of the martial law will lapse on July 22.

Duterte last week said he needs 10 to 15 more days to end the crisis in Marawi City. —Jon Viktor D. Cabuenas/ALG, GMA News

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