MARAWI CITY — It was slow and literally deadly going as the Army platoon, backed by an armored personnel carrier, fought to retake Marawi City, going from house to house, one street at a time, their progress accompanied by the constant whine of incoming sniper fire.
Thursday’s clashes alone cost the government six soldiers dead and seven wounded, the Western Mindanao Command said. Among the dead were comrades of the troops we were accompanying.
It was the third day of clashes between government forces and gunmen of the Maute group that broke out Tuesday, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to place the whole of Mindanao under martial law and cut short a visit to Russia.
Artillery and air support was provided through most of Thursday to help the troops on the ground advance.
Thus far, according to 1st Infantry Division commander Brigadier General Rolando Joselito Bautista, 31 of the extremists have been killed and six of their weapons recovered.
And although most of Marawi’s 200,000 residents have fled, there were a number who remained trapped by the fighting. On Thursday, soldiers rescued 16 civilians in Barangay Kilala.